Nosebleeds, also called epistaxis, are a common occurrence that can be frightening and unpleasant, but are not usually of medical concern. They can originate in the front or the back of the nose and can generally be managed at home. One out of every seven people will have a nosebleed in their lifetime and they are most common in children 2 to 10 years and adults over 50. Nosebleeds are common in the dry winter months and usually occur during the morning.
What causes nosebleeds?
Nosebleeds can either be anterior (front) or posterior (back). Anterior nose bleeds are generally caused by a blood vessel on the nasal septum rupturing. This is particular common in the Kiesselbach plexus where a number of vessels are joined together. Anterior nosebleeds are the most common types and are easily treated. Posterior nosebleeds are caused by damage to an artery in the back of the nose. These nosebleeds are usually more complicated and require treatment by a specialist. Older people and people who have sustained head or facial injuries are most likely to experiences these types of nosebleed.
The cause of most nosebleeds is unknown and not easily identifiable. There are some common causes of nosebleeds such as trauma to the nose area. This could be caused by an impact to the front or the side of the nose. Internal trauma and damage can be caused by nose picking and the insertion of foreign objects into the nostril. This is the most common causes of nosebleeds in children. Some other causes of nosebleeds include:
- Nasal and sinus infection
- Exposure to warm, dry air which can cause nasal cracking
- Allergic rhinitis
- Vigorous nose blowing
- Nasal surgery
- Cocaine use
- Excessive alcohol use
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Blood thinning medications such as Warfarin and aspirin
- Changes in temperature
Some people who have a medical condition which results in the inability to clot blood usually experience more nosebleeds than others.