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Though they can be quite impressive, nosebleeds are generally harmless. Young children and the elderly are most at risk for suffering from this type of haemorrhage, also known as epistaxis.
There are many blood vessels in the nose and their role is to warm and humidify the air we breathe. These vessels are located close to the surface and are therefore easily damaged. Nosebleeds, particularly in children, originate in the septum which is the partition that separates the nostrils. In rare cases, the haemorrhage can originate from deeper within the nose. This generally occurs in the elderly who have circulation problems. This type of nosebleed is more serious and is much more delicate to treat.
Nosebleeds can occur for many reasons, including:
Firstly, do not panic! Keep the head upright, higher than the level of the heart. Tilt the head forward slightly and firmly pinch the nostrils for 5 to 10 minutes.
DO NOT tilt the head back. This is very important as the blood will flow into the throat. This will prevent coagulation and could even cause vomiting.
Then, take it easy for at least one hour and avoid blowing your nose.
Certain situations require medication attention:
The first step, upon consulting a physician, is determining the origin of the haemorrhage. Once that is done, there are two treatment options: cautery and anterior packing.
Cauterization involves the use of a chemical solution, a small electrical discharge or a laser to burn the vessels responsible for the hemorrhage. This will prevent them from bleeding any further. Cauterization is used to treat those who suffer from frequent nosebleeds.
This second method is used when the haemorrhage does not stop on its own after 20 minutes. The physician inserts a wick or cotton pack that will act like a sponge and will swell when it comes into contact with blood. By swelling, the pack will exert pressure on the blood vessel which will stop the bleeding.
In more serious cases where the above mentioned methods fail to stop the bleeding, more elaborate techniques may be undertaken but require hospitalization.
A few simple measures can be taken to help prevent nosebleeds:
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.