Treating nosebleeds

All Woman

AMONG the most common medical complaints, epistaxis (bleeding from the nose) is easy to control in most cases. However, Dr Anona Griffith, paediatrician at Gateway Plaza, Old Harbour, says that it is important for nosebleeds to be properly observed and managed even though they tend to resolve by themselves.

“It is a relatively common condition that occurs mainly in the young, commonly under 10 years, as well as older patients over 50 years, and more males than females are affected. Bleeding often starts without any triggers and stops by itself without intervention,” Dr Griffith said.

She pointed out that these nosebleeds are related to an erosion of protective membranes and subsequent exposure of vessels which subsequently break as a result of regular activities such as nose picking, blowing or rubbing too hard when someone has the cold or flu, or from kids bumping into each other while playing.

“Blood often comes from the front of the nasal cavity, especially the septum — the structure that separates the two nostrils where there is a rich supply of blood vessels . Bleeding can also occur from the back of the nasal cavity, and oftentimes is not as obvious as an anterior bleed,” Dr Griffith advised.

She further explained that in addition to the above-mentioned actions that could compromise the thin, sensitive membranes of the nose, there are other causes of an often spontaneous nosebleed.

These include conditions that involve inflammation of the nasal tissues such as allergic rhinitis and sinusitis, sneezing, the presence of an upper respiratory tract infection, improper administration of nasal sprays (some nasal sprays themselves may cause associated nosebleeds), and the presence of foreign bodies such as beads and small stones.

Dr Griffith said that treating nosebleeds may often be taken care of by administering a simple two-step first aid technique:

1. Apply pressure to both sides of the nose by pinching the area just below the bone. Do this for least five minutes.

2. Ensure that your child sits with the upper body bent slightly forward.

Dr Griffith cautioned parents never to simply disregard nosebleeds without investigating, especially if the child experiences nosebleeds that are heavy, frequent or both.

“Despite the relatively uneventful course of nosebleeds, there may be more serious underlying conditions that may manifest only in the form of epistaxis. These include haemophilia and other bleeding disorders such as leukaemia,” Dr Griffith cautioned parents.

She said that if any of the following is noticed in the child, then it is best to seek medical attention to rule out any serious underlying illnesses. These include:

1. If nosebleeds occur repeatedly and frequently.

2. If nosebleeds are associated with head trauma and even involve passage of any clear fluid as well as blood from the nose.

3. If bleeding is profuse.

4. If nosebleeds are associated with bleeding from other sites such as gums, urine, easy bruising or prolonged duration of bleeding after trauma.

5. If the family has a history of blood disorders.

6. If they occur in the presence of other symptoms such as weight loss, fevers and night sweats.

— Penda Honeyghan

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