What is Epistaxis?

Epistaxis also called acute hemorrhage or nose bleed is a medical condition in which bleeding occurs from the nasal cavity of the nostril. Nose bleed can occur due to a trauma to the nose, due to accident, or injury to the interior of the nose from pricking. Nosebleed or epistaxis can be classified according to their site of origination as anterior and posterior. Anterior nosebleed is common and does not require medical attention, while posterior nosebleed is rare and requires immediate medical care. Epistaxis is common in children and older people.


Bleeding usually starts from one nostril. In case of heavy bleeding, it may fill up both the nostrils and overflow the nasopharynx. In certain cases, blood may drip back from the nose through the throat to stomach. A person is likely to vomit in such a condition. The common signs of excessive nosebleed are:

  • Excess blood loss may cause dizziness and fainting, confusion, loss of alertness and light-headedness. However, the condition is rare.
  • Bleeding from other body parts like teeth, gums, nostrils, etc. indicate inability of blood to clot.
  • Additional bleeding from other parts of the body, such as bleeding gums when brushing teeth, blood in urine or bowel movements, or easy bruising also indicate an inability of the blood to clot.


The major factors that cause epistaxis or nose bleeding are broadly categorized under local (fracture due to a sharp blow, or nose-picking, etc.) and general factors. Nosebleed generally starts from just inside the entrance of the nostril, on the middle harder part of nasal septum. Blood vessels of this region being fragile, rupture easily and begin to bleed. The factors causing nosebleed possibly are:

  • Structural or anatomical deformities like hereditary hemorrhage.
  • Nasal sprays and prolonged usage of nasal steroids (particularly prolonged or improper use of nasal steroids).
  • Middle ear barotrauma due to sudden change of pressure.
  • Surgery such as functional endoscopic sinus surgery.
  • Exposure to warm, dry air for prolonged periods of time.
  • Allergic rhinitis.
  • Deviated or perforated nasal septum.
  • Cocaine use.
  • Infectious disease (cold) or high blood pressure.
  • Connective tissue disease.
  • Certain drugs like aspirin, warfarin, isotretinoin, desmopressin, etc.
  • Pregnancy (rare, due to hypertension and hormonal changes).
  • Vascular disorders.
  • Vitamin C and vitamin K deficiency.



The following are the risks of epistaxis:

  • Re-bleeding.
  • Running nose.
  • Swelling and numbing.
  • Bruising face.
  • Anemia.
  • Nose deformity.



The following precautions and measures can help prevent nose bleed:

  • Give away the habit of nose-picking.
  • Always blow your nose gently.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Use of a humidifier in winters when the indoor climate is dry.
  • Using a saline nasal spray to keep inside of the nose moisturized.
  • Avoid any facial trauma by wearing seatbelt or shoulder harness while driving, and using headgears when playing sports.

How is it diagnosed?

In a majority of people, cases of anterior nosebleeds are self-diagnosed and treated at home. However, if nosebleeds are severe and fail to respond to home remedies or first-aid measures, doctor’...

How is it treated?

Depending on the cause and diagnosis of nosebleed, treatment is prescribed. Generally, as home treatment when nosebleed starts, patient is made to sit up straight, pinch the nose, and hold head backwards. Pouring cold water slowly overhead or keep..

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