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The Great Nosebleed Debate

Updated: May 16, 2023

The Great Nosebleed Debate

Nose bleed (epistaxis)

Australian Tennis player Nick Kyrgios suffered a nose bleed during the third round of the Australian Open and had to resort to an unorthodox method to continue playing.

Stopping nosebleed is relatively easy yet many people do not know how.

The lining of the nose has many tiny blood vessels close to the surface to warm the air during inhalation, and these can be easily damaged.

The two most common causes of nosebleed are dry air and nose picking.

Other causes can include, but not limited to, blunt trauma to the nose, acute sinus infections, allergies and nonallergic rhinitis (sneezing or chronic congestion)

Sometimes nosebleed is associated with very high blood pressure however, hypertension can worsen or prolong an existing problem but will not generally be the cause.

They are very common.

Children between 2 and 10 years old and adults over 50 are mostly affected.

It is generally considered not an emergency but it could be good to see your doctor if a child under 2 is having nosebleeds or if they take too long to stop, particularly if the victim is taking blood thinning agents such as warfarin.

In an uncontrolled bleed the doctor may apply medications to constrict blood vessels, adrenaline or sealed using chemical agents or heat.

As with any bleed the first objective is to stop the bleed.

This is done with pressure over the site of the bleed.

In nosebleed of course we can not see the broken blood vessel so we apply that pressure over the entire area.

Packing the nostrils with cotton or tissues is far less effective and quite often the bleed restarts when these are removed taking the scab with them.

So what is the correct First Aid treatment for nosebleed?

1. Pinch the soft part of the nose between the nostrils and the bone.

2. Tilt head FORWARD so no blood is swallowed. (If the victim is swallowing blood this only means the pressure is not in the right place to stop the bleed.)

3. Maintain this for about 10 minutes or until bleed has stopped

4. You can slow the blood flow to the area using icepacks above the bleed site but this can be difficult to do all at the same time so placing icepacks further away from the site, such as the back of the neck, is also effective.

In the case of Nick Kyrgios however there was another factor involved

He needed to finish the tennis match.

Nick has had this problem because of sinus issues for very long time.

While he does know the technique to stop it, packing cotton or tissues into the nostrils was purely a temporary measure so he could continue the match.

Once the bleed has stopped it is important to not make it start again.

That means no picking or blowing for a while.

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