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Stopping nosebleeds: a pinch will usually do the trick
Posted By Patrick J. Skerrett On October 18, 2013 @ 3:33 pm In Health | Comments Disabled
One of my sons has the occasional nosebleed. It’s often at night. Sometimes I hear a mad dash of footsteps headed to the bathroom. Other times there’s a trail of blood droplets on the hallway floor.
Fortunately, his nosebleeds (the medical term is epistaxis) stop quickly, as they do for most people. Some, though, need medical attention. An article posted online yesterday in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery looks at treatment options for serious nosebleeds. The bottom line: Conservative options, like packing the nose with gauze, work just as well as more invasive efforts, have negative fewer side effects, and cost less.
More invasive options include using electricity or heat to burn a bleeding blood vessel, surgery to tie off the bleeding blood vessel, or injecting a plug of material into the artery to block its flow. The injection process is called embolization. It can cause harmful side effects, like nerve damage or stroke, and requires expensive imaging.
Although packing the nose with gauze may seem low-tech, and take a while, it’s usually the best place to start.
Most nosebleeds occur when a blood vessel in the nose’s soft cartilage leaks. These are called anterior nosebleeds. Posterior nosebleeds come from blood vessels higher up in the nose.
It makes sense to treat every nosebleed as if it is an anterior one, and try to stop it at home. You will be right 94% of the time, says Dr. Mary Pickett, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.
A good, strong pinch in the right place will often do the trick. Here’s what Dr. Pickett recommends. (I also asked my colleague, Dr. Howard LeWine, to demonstrate the technique. See the video below.)
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