Chronic Nose Bleeds / Epistaxis
Nosebleeds are fairly common given the prominence of the nose on the face, as well as the rich network of capillaries contained within it. These make the nose susceptible to trauma and injury which may result in nosebleeds. Other factors include changes in weather, dry air, allergies, repeated nose blowing, or sinus infections.
The two types of nosebleeds are anterior and posterior. Anterior nosebleeds comprise 90% of all nosebleeds. The bleeding usually occurs in the anterior (front) of the nose and flows outward. Posterior nosebleeds are less common and usually occur in the elderly, people with high blood pressure, or those who suffer a facial or nose injury. The bleeding usually occurs in the posterior (back) of the nose and flows down the throat. These nosebleeds are generally more complicated and often require medical assistance.
While most people will experience at least one nosebleed at some point in their lives, some people may experience nosebleeds on a regular basis, which may occur as a result of certain medications or underlying conditions such as high blood pressure, abnormal blood vessels or liver disease. Common nosebleed causes such as trauma, dry air and sinus infections can also contribute to chronic nosebleeds.
Initial Treatment for Nosebleeds
In most cases, nosebleeds can be treated by the patient with no need for professional medical care. When experiencing a nosebleed, patients should lean their head forward and pinch the nostrils together from about 10 minutes. Once bleeding stops, it is important to avoid sneezing or blowing the nose for the next 24 hours. If these techniques do not stop the bleeding, it is important to seek medical attention in order to prevent serious complications.
Cauterization is an effective treatment for chronic nosebleeds that involves burning the nose with an electrical device to close off part of the nose and prevent future bleeding. Patients who experience chronic nosebleeds often have an exposed blood vessel in the nose. By closing off this blood vessel, most patients will experience a significantly lower amount of nosebleeds, with some experiencing complete relief.
During the cauterization procedure, Dr. Hamilton will numb the nose with a local anesthetic to relieve any potential discomfort. Some patients may be put to sleep under general anesthesia, depending on the severity of their condition and overall health. The doctor will use a microscope to inspect the lining of the nose and precisely target the source of the frequent nosebleeds. This area will then be burned with a chemical agent or electrical device that destroys or coagulates the tissue in the area.
Most patients heal successfully from this procedure and will experience few or no nosebleeds in the future.
There are certain methods patients can follow to help reduce the frequency of nosebleeds, including using saline nose drops, a humidifier or vaporizer on a regular basis. It is also important to avoid nasal trauma, nose picking and other activities that can irritate the nose. Dr. Hamilton will provide specific preventive instructions for each individual patient based on their condition.
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