Did you know there’s a medical term for a nosebleed? It’s called epistaxis and can occur spontaneously in the front part of the nose close to the nostrils –the part closest to the location of blood vessels which can be damaged easily. And yes, nosebleeds can be common in children and can typically be handled at home, but they can also be recurring and certain symptoms should be checked by an ENT specialist.
From nosebleeds to a deviated septum, various nasal conditions can affect children at some point in their lives, the expert physicians at Pediatric ENT Associates (PENTA) at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham specialize in the diagnostic, medical, and surgical care of head and neck diseases in infants and children. All board-certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, they will ensure only the best care for your child.
What Causes Epistaxis?
The nose does more than just define your facial features or provide a passageway for air. It is the function of the nose to heat and humidify the air before it reaches the lungs. Our noses are also lined with many blood vessels situated close to the surface, making them prone to injury or bleeding. Once a vessel begins to bleed, it can get messy as the bleeding continues due to the clot easily being dislodged. Nosebleeds, however, will often look worse than they are and most children outgrow nosebleeds during their teen years.
The common causes of epistaxis are:
- Dry or hot weather which dries out the nasal membranes, causing bleeding when picked or rubbed
- Constantly picking the nose or blowing the nose too hard
- Allergies and upper respiratory infections such as colds and sinusitis (or any condition that causes constant sneezing and nose-blowing)
- Injury to the nose
- Insertion of an object into the nose
- Use of medications that thin the blood
- Deviated septum
- Nasal surgery
How To Treat Your Child’s Nosebleed at Home
Follow these steps to comfort and treat your child at home:
- Keep your child calm and relax
- Don’t have your child lie down or put his or her head between their legs. Have your child sit up with the head tilted, slightly leaning forward. This will prevent the blood from running down their throat. Swallowing blood can cause gagging, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea
- Encourage your child to breathe through the mouth as you gently pinch his or her nostrils (soft part of the nose) closed with your thumb and index finger for 5-10 minutes. The pressure can help stop the bleeding
- Use a damp washcloth or tissue to catch the blood
- Apply a cold pack or compress on the bridge of the nose
- If bleeding persists, repeat the above steps
- Once the bleeding stops, have your child relax and remind him or her not to bend over, strain, or lift anything heavy, and not to rub, pick, blow the nose, or join any rough play for the next 2-3 days to allow the damaged blood vessel to heal
When To Call Your Child’s Physician
Seek medical attention when:
- The nosebleed won’t stop
- The nosebleed recurs
- Your child has a face or head injury
- The nose is bleeding profusely
- Your child is ill, weak, feeling faint, or cannot breathe properly
- Your child bruises easily and has blood in the gums, stool, or urine
- There is a foreign object stuck in your child’s nose
How A Physician Might Treat Epistaxis
During your visit, your child’s doctor will examine his or her nose to help determine the cause of the nosebleed. You’ll be asked about your child’s health history, symptoms, as well as any recent injuries or accidents. A physical exam will then be conducted. A small speculum will be used to hold your child’s nose open, accompanied by a light source or endoscope for better visualization of the nasal passages. Topical medications may be used to anesthetize the lining of the nose and in effect constrict the blood vessels. The physician will clean the nose, most likely removing any crusts or clots from the inside. Depending on the condition, blood tests and x-rays may be ordered.
Treatments for epistaxis may include:
- Nasal Packing – strips of gauze are placed inside the nasal cavity to put pressure on the bleeding site
- Cauterization – chemical substances such as silver nitrate will be applied, or heat energy (electrocautery) to help close the bleeding blood vessel
- Adjustments in Medications – drugs to help control blood pressure may be prescribed. It will also be recommended to reduce or stop taking blood-thinning medications
- Correction of a nasal fracture or deviated septum
- Removal of a foreign body inside the nose
Schedule Your Appointment Today
Your child deserves the best care possible. Our team of board-certified doctors are not just committed to providing treatment but are completely dedicated to the welfare of children within the practice because all physicians at Pediatric ENT Associates at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham are parents as well. If you’d like to learn more about epistaxis, or would like to seek treatment for your child, contact our Birmingham office.