By definition, a nose bleed refers to the loss of blood that comes from the lining of the nose. It is more common, perhaps, to have one nose bleed from one nostril, but this does not mean that patient cannot experience bleeding from both nostrils. Nose bleeds are a common occurrence, and are usually facilitated by irritations to the tissue lining the nose. Colds have also been shown to cause nose bleeds in a number of individuals. While this is certainly a scary experience, it does not pose any life threatening issues and first aid management can help manage the situation.
The material posted on this page for managing minor and major nose bleeds is for learning purposes only. To learn to manage nose bleeds and other bleeding emergencies enroll in a first aid course with a credible provider near you.
How Do Nose Bleeds Happen?
The nose is home to numerous tiny blood vessels that rupture frequently. Air that passes through the nose when an individual breathes in has the ability to dry the nose, thus predisposing the membranes to irritation. The result is the formation of dry crusts which are easily irritated. When these crusts fall off, whether due to picking the nose or sneezing, the result is nose bleeding. Other conditions that cause the lining of the nose to dry up include allergic reactions, sinusitis as well as colds and flus. In some cases, when a foreign object is lodged in the nostril(s), as is common with children, this will disturb the inner lining of the nose thereby causing bleeding.
It is important to note that at times, a nose bleed is the result of pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure and disorders of the blood. Surgical procedures on facial features may also cause the nose to bleed, as will infections of the respiratory system. Regardless of the condition which leads to nose bleed, the procedure for first aid is the same across the board. The moment you realize that you are nose bleeding, sit down and avoid walking around. Gently pinch the soft part of your nose using your thumb and the fore finger. This will close the nostrils and prevent the blood from flowing.
Do this for 10 continuous minutes as you breathe through your mouth. Tilt your head forward to prevent blood from the nose from draining into your mouth. Give ample time for the bleeding to stop. Most cases, if well handled, will usually stop this way. Some people find that using an icepack helps manage nose bleeding. Even with this ice pack, it is very important not to stuff the nose with anything. Avoid lying down when nose bleeding, as you should when using nasal medication.
When Do You Need to Contact a Medical Professional?
You need to consider the following when nose bleeding and you need to get in touch with a professional:
- If bleeding continues for more than 20 minutes.
- If your nose starts bleeding following trauma to the head you need to see a doctor as this could be indicative of a fracture in the skull. It could also mean that your nose could be broken.
- Repeated nose bleeds could be cause for concern especially if they are very frequent.