Quick help for nosebleeds: don't put your head back

Quick help for nosebleeds: don't put your head back

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Prevention and first aid: keep calm with nosebleeds
Although bleeding from the nose is harmless in most cases, it often worries those affected. According to health experts, keep calm and follow some tips. Under no circumstances should the head be put back on the neck. Some measures to prevent nosebleeds can also be taken.

The causes are often harmless
Nosebleeds often look very dangerous, but mostly the causes of nosebleeds are harmless. However, not always: According to health experts, frequent nosebleeds can also indicate a serious illness. It can be the result of high blood pressure or a symptom of a blood clotting disorder, for example. Then you have to tackle the cause.

Bleeding nose due to dry mucous membranes
However, the most common reason for a bleeding nose is dry air, which dries out the nasal mucosa. This increases the risk of the skin tearing, sometimes due to a violent sneeze. The front part of the nose, which is traversed by small blood vessels, is particularly sensitive.

"This is a weak point where bleeding occurs quickly," explains Jens Wagenknecht, board member of the German General Medical Association in a message from the dpa news agency. "A few drops of blood can look like a medical emergency in nosebleeds," says the doctor, who runs a practice in Varel, Lower Saxony. "It is usually only a few milliliters of blood that you lose."

Some people are more prone to nosebleeds
People who take blood thinners are more susceptible to nosebleeds. According to Clemens Heiser, senior physician at the ear, nose and throat clinic in the Klinikum rechts der Isar in Munich, there is more of an opportunity to get spontaneous nosebleeds, even with influenza infections. And pregnant women are also more prone to bleeding noses because their mucous membranes are more supplied with blood.

Children also bleed their noses “a little more often,” explains Hermann Josef Kahl, doctor for pediatrics and adolescent medicine from Düsseldorf. However, this is usually harmless.

keep Calm
The following always applies to nosebleeds: keep calm. Because of excitement and hectic pace, blood pressure rises, which in turn leads to increased bleeding. Some people still think that it helps with nosebleeds to put your head back. But this can cause the blood to “run back into the throat and through the esophagus into the stomach”, as Winfried Goertzen from the professional association of ear, nose and throat specialists explained in an older message. There is also a risk of blood getting into the airways. "This is particularly dangerous when the patient is unconscious," said the ENT doctor.

Lean your head slightly forward
Rather, the head should be leaned slightly forward. According to Wagenknecht, paper handkerchiefs or bundles of fabric should not go into the nostril: "This disrupts the clotting of the blood," according to the expert. Constant wiping on the outside of the nostril should also be avoided. Hoarsely, it is better to put pressure on the nostrils. "This partially cuts off the blood supply to the front of the nose."

A cool cloth on the back of the neck can do no harm, but those affected should not expect much effect from it. "If so, that's more of a placebo effect," says Heiser. Bleeding in the front of the nose often stops on its own after a very short time.

Signs of arterial bleeding
A pulsating and gushing bleeding nose is a sign of arterial bleeding, according to Heiser. Larger arteries run especially in the back of the nose. According to the doctor, arterial bleeding will be difficult to stop on its own. In such cases, an otolaryngologist can help, the affected vessels may become empty or treated with special tamponades.

Heiser generally recommends that you go to a doctor if the nose does not stop bleeding profusely after about ten minutes. Patients who take blood thinners should hardly hesitate to seek medical treatment if they have heavy bleeding. "The bleeding is unlikely to stop on its own."

In children who bleed from their noses for more than three to four minutes at a time, parents should react and go to the doctor with them, Kahl advises. If the nose bleeds again and again every few days without there being any obvious injuries, an ENT doctor should always look for possible causes, says Jens Wagenknecht.

Prevent nosebleeds
According to Heiser, a coagulation disorder can appear from repeated nosebleeds. "For example in children." In rare cases, small tumors are the cause. Nosebleeds can also be a symptom of illnesses such as hypertension (high blood pressure), arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or kidney diseases.

Often the reason for constant bleeding is a small vessel on the nasal septum that is injured and therefore keeps tearing open. As Heiser explains, ENT doctors use endoscopy to check the nose for the causes of the bleeding. This may be followed by further examinations, such as blood tests or computed tomography.

One way to prevent nosebleeds is to keep the nasal mucous membranes as moist as possible. Jens Wagenknecht advises to increase the air humidity in the bedroom and to drink occasionally at night. Tools such as nasal ointments, salt water spray and nasal oil can support attacked mucous membranes. (ad)

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