Epistaxis, commonly called a nosebleed, occurs when a blood vessel bursts within the nostril, nasal cavity, or nasopharynx, which is behind the nasal cavity and at the top of the throat.
Nosebleeds are common, with more than half of all people getting one at some time in their life. Epistaxis is rarely life threatening, but can sometimes require medical attention.
Do you get frequent nosebleeds? The experts at Dignity Health Neurological Institute of Northern California can diagnose the cause of your epistaxis in Sacramento, CA or a surrounding area at one of our state-of-the-art facilities. Call (888) 800-7688 for a doctor referral and to learn more about our advanced treatment for neurovascular conditions.
Signs and symptoms of epistaxis typically involve bleeding from only one nostril. However, if the bleeding is heavy or one nostril is clogged with a clot, blood can flow from the other nostril or down the throat.
Nosebleeds can begin in one of two places: the front of the nose, called the anterior, or the back of the nose, called the posterior. Usually posterior epistaxis causes heavier bleeding.
Epistaxis often happens suddenly for no apparent reason, but nosebleeds have many known causes, including nose picking. The most common cause of epistaxis is trauma to the nose.
Other causes of nosebleeds include:
- Nasal or sinus infections
- Prolonged breathing of dry air
- Bleeding disorders
- Certain medications
- Vascular malformations (abnormal blood vessels)
- Chemical irritants
- Problems with the septum that separates the left and right sides of the nose
How to Stop a Nosebleed at Home or at Dignity Health
Treatment and prevention options vary depending on the cause and severity of epistaxis. Nosebleeds often stop on their own.
To treat epistaxis at home, place pressure on the front, fleshy part of the nose (rather than on the bone) for several minutes. Keep your head higher than your heart, and use an ice pack at the same time to slow the flow of blood.
If you can’t stop the nosebleed with 30 minutes of applying pressure, you may need medical treatment from one of our professionals. A doctor can apply medication, chemically or electrically cauterize (seal) the blood vessel, or pack your nose with a special material to stop the bleeding.
Persistent nosebleeds may require a surgical procedure called ligation to tie-off a bleeding vessel, or embolization, which involves injecting material into the vessel to block blood flow. We also can use biplane angiography to treat epistaxis.
To prevent epistaxis, keep the inside of your nose moist using saline nasal sprays or ointments. Using a humidifier during dry winter months can also help prevent irritation and nosebleeds.
Find a Doctor at Dignity Health if these self-care measures are not effective, or if you have frequent nosebleeds. Dignity Health Neurological Institute of Northern California provides trusted treatment for nosebleeds, or epistaxis, throughout the Sacramento region.