Epistaxis: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Classification and external resources
ICD-10 R04.0
ICD-9 784.7
DiseasesDB 18327
eMedicine emerg/806 ent/701, ped/1618
MeSH C08.460.261

Epistaxis (or a nosebleed) is the relatively common occurrence of hemorrhage from the nose, usually noticed when the blood drains out through the nostrils. There are two types: anterior (the most common), and posterior (less common, more likely to require medical attention). Sometimes in more severe cases, the blood can come up the nasolacrimal duct and out from the eye. Fresh blood and clotted blood can also flow down into the stomach and cause nausea and vomiting. It is rarely fatal, accounting for only 4 of the 2.4 million deaths in the U.S. in 1999.[1] Perhaps the most well-known Epistaxis-related death was that of Attila the Hun. He drank a severely large quantity of alcohol on his wedding night after his parley with Pope Leo I, suffered a nosebleed in his sleep and was suffocated by the blood.



The cause of nosebleeds can generally be divided into two categories, local and systemic factors, although it should be remembered that a significant number of nosebleeds occur with no obvious cause.

Local factors

Most common factors
Other possible factors

Systemic factors

Most common factors
Other possible factors


Nosebleeds are due to the rupture of a blood vessel within the richly perfused nasal mucosa. Rupture may be spontaneous or initiated by trauma. Nosebleeds are reported in up to 60% of the population with peak incidences in those under the age of ten and over the age of 50 and appears to occur in males more than females.[3] An increase in blood pressure (e.g. due to general hypertension or the consumption of "hot foods", for e.g. salt, peanuts, sugar and coke otherwise known as googka) tends to increase the duration of spontaenous epistaxis.[4]. Anticoagulant medication and disorders of blood clotting can promote and prolong bleeding. Spontaneous epistaxis is more common in the elderly as the nasal mucosa (lining) becomes dry and thin and blood pressure tends to be higher. The elderly are also more prone to prolonged nose bleeds as their blood vessels are less able to constrict and control the bleeding.

The vast majority of nose bleeds occur in the anterior (front) part of the nose from the nasal septum. This area is richly endowed with blood vessels (Kiesselbach's plexus). This region is also known as Little's area. Bleeding further back in the nose is known as a posterior bleed and is usually due to rupture of the sphenopalatine artery or one of its branches. Posterior bleeds are often prolonged and difficult to control. They can be associated with bleeding from both nostrils and with a greater flow of blood into the mouth.[3]


The flow of blood normally stops when the blood clots, which may be encouraged by direct pressure applied by pinching the soft fleshy part of the nose. This applies pressure to Little's area, the source of the majority of nose bleeds and promotes clotting. Pressure should be firm and be applied for at least five minutes and up to 20 minutes; tilting the head forward will help decrease the chance of nausea and airway obstruction.[3] Swallowing excess blood can irritate the stomach and cause vomiting. Local application of an ice pack to the forehead or back of the neck or sucking an ice cube has seen widespread practice, but has been shown to not have any statistically significant effects on nasal mucosal blood flow.[5] There are conflicting opinions in the use of ice or nasal packing in the treatment of nose bleeds. Most suggest there is no detriment to using ice or nasal packing when initial efforts to pinch the nose fail,[6][3] while others advise against it.[7]

The local application of a vasoconstrictive agent has been shown to reduce the bleeding time in benign cases of epistaxis. The drugs oxymetazoline or phenylephrine are widely available in over-the-counter nasal sprays for the treatment of allergic rhinitis, and may be used for this purpose.[8]

Other products available to promote coagulation include Coalgan (in Europe) or NasalCEASE (in the US). These are a calcium alginate mesh or swabs that is inserted in the nasal cavity to accelerate coagulation.[9] Also there is QuikClot nosebleed available in the U.S. that is a hemostatic OTC formula.

If these simple measures do not work then medical intervention may be needed to stop bleeding, possibly by an otolaryngologist (ENT doctor). In the first instance this can take the form of chemical cautery of any bleeding vessels or packing of the nose with ribbon gauze or an absorbent dressing (called anterior nasal packing). Such procedures are best carried out by a medical professional. Chemical cauterisation is most commonly conducted using local application of silver nitrate compound to any visible bleeding vessel. This is a painful procedure and the nasal mucosa should be anaesthetised first, preferably with the addition of topical adrenaline to further reduce bleeding. If bleeding is still uncontrolled or no focal bleeding point is visible then the nasal cavity should be packed with a sterile dressing, which by applying pressure to the nasal mucosa will tamponade the bleeding point. Ongoing bleeding despite good nasal packing is a surgical emergency and can be treated by endoscopic evaluation of the nasal cavity under general anaesthesia to identify an elusive bleeding point or to directly ligate (tie off) the blood vessels supplying the nose. These blood vessels include the sphenopalatine, anterior and posterior ethmoidal arteries. More rarely the maxillary or a branch of the external cartoid artery can be ligated. The bleeding can also be stopped by intra-arterial embolization using a catheter placed in the groin and threaded up the aorta to the bleeding vessel by an interventional radiologist. Continued bleeding may be an indication of more serious underlying conditions.[10]

Chronic epistaxis resulting from a dry nasal mucosa can be treated by spraying saline in the nose three times per day, lubricating the nose with ointments or creams, such as Vaseline, and installing a humidifier in the bedroom.

Application of a topical antibiotic ointment to the nasal mucosa has been shown to be an effective treatment for recurrent epistaxis.[11] One study found it to be as effective as nasal cautery in the prevention of recurrent epistaxis in patients without active bleeding at the time of treatment - both had a success rate of approximately 50 percent.[12]

Nosebleeds are rarely dangerous unless prolonged and heavy. Nevertheless they should not be underestimated by medical staff. Particularly in posterior bleeds a great deal of blood may be swallowed and thus blood loss underestimated. The elderly and those with co-existing morbidities, particularly of blood clotting should be closely monitored for signs of shock.

Recurrent nosebleeds may cause anemia due to iron deficiency.

See also


  1. ^ Work Table I. Deaths from each cause by 5-year age groups, race and sex: US, 1999 Page 1922. U.S. Centers for Disease Control Published 2001-05-11.
  2. ^ Yueng-Hsiang Chu & Jih-Chin Lee (2009). "Unilateral Epistaxis". New England Journal of Medicine 361: e14. PMID 19710479. http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/361/9/e14. 
  3. ^ a b c d Corry J. Kucik & Timothy Clenney (January 15, 2005). "Management of Epistaxis". American Academy of Family Physicians. http://www.aafp.org/afp/20050115/305.html. Retrieved January 31, 2010. 
  4. ^ J. F. Lubianca Neto, F. D. Fuchs, S. R. Facco, M. Gus, L. Fasolo, R. Mafessoni & A. L. Gleissner (1999). "Is epistaxis evidence of end-organ damage in patients with hypertension?". Laryngoscope 109 (7): 1111–1115. PMID 10401851. 
  5. ^ A. Teymoortash, A. Sesterhenn, R. Kress, N. Sapundzhiev & J. A. Werner (2003). "Efficacy of ice packs in the management of epistaxis". Clinical Otolaryngology & Allied Sciences 28 (6): 545–547. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2273.2003.00773.x. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bsc/cot/2003/00000028/00000006/art00013. 
  6. ^ Nose Bleed / Epistaxis Treatment MedIndia Online.net. Retrieved 2010-03-15.
  7. ^ "Nosebleeds". Rush University Medical Center. http://www.rush.edu/rumc/page-1098987337863.html. Retrieved March 5, 2008. 
  8. ^ Guarisco JL, Graham HD (1989). "Epistaxis in children: causes, diagnosis, and treatment". Ear Nose Throat J 68 (7): 522, 528–30, 532 passim. PMID 2676467. 
  9. ^ Coalgan and Nasalcease information Brothier Laboratories. Retrieved 2010-03-15.
  10. ^ MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Nosebleed U.S. National Library of Medicine Medline Plus service. Retrieved 2010-03-15.
  11. ^ Kubba H, MacAndie C, Botma M, Robison J, O'Donnell M, Robertson G, Geddes N (2001). "A prospective, single-blind, randomized controlled trial of antiseptic cream for recurrent epistaxis in childhood". Clin Otolaryngol Allied Sci 26 (6): 465–8. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2273.2001.00502.x. PMID 11843924. 
  12. ^ Murthy P, Nilssen EL, Rao S, McClymont LG (1999). "A randomised clinical trial of antiseptic nasal carrier cream and silver nitrate cautery in the treatment of recurrent anterior epistaxis". Clin Otolaryngol Allied Sci 24 (3): 228–31. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2273.1999.00236.x. PMID 10384851. 

External links

1911 encyclopedia

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Simple English

Epistaxis is when blood comes out of the nose. It is more commonly known as a nosebleed. More people have nosebleeds in dry areas, or in the winter.[1] Even though nosebleeds can seem scary, they are usually not serious or life threatening.[2] Most nosebleeds happen in the front of the nose, and these are called anterior nosebleeds. Sometimes, people get nosebleeds in the back of their noses, called posterior nosebleeds. These are more serious, and somebody who has one may have to go to the hospital.[3]

Dealing with a nosebleed

Many people tilt their heads back during a nosebleed, but this is actually not safe because it can make blood go down their throats and make them choke or get sick.[4] Instead, the best way to deal with a nosebleed is to tilt one's head forward and pinch the bottom of their nose between one's nostrils with a wet piece of tissue paper.


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