How to Stop Nosebleeds

There are several tiny blood vessels in the lining of the nose. Due to these blood vessels being so close to the surface, they can be easily damaged – either from dry air or too-frequent blowing of the nose – resulting in nosebleeds. If you take medications like antihistamines or decongestant, over time this can also dry out the nasal membranes and cause nosebleeds. Use of Aspirin, blood thinners, trauma to the nose, alcohol consumption, as well as chemical irritants can also cause nosebleeds.

In order to prevent nosebleeds from occurring, it is first important to figure out the cause. If your nosebleeds are a result of the use of nasal decongestants, it is generally fairly easy to stop the nosebleeds by discontinuing the use of the nasal spray. Instead, Dr. Ali Ghahary from Vancouver suggests switching to a saline nasal spray to help keep the nasal membranes lubricated. The more lubricated the nasal membranes are, the less likely you are to develop nosebleeds. Using a humidifier can also be helpful. To stop a nosebleed in its tracks, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends sitting in an upright position and leaning slightly forward. Sitting in this position reduces the blood pressure in the veins of the nose, which slows down the bleeding. You can also stop bleeding by taking your thumb and index finger, and pinching your nostrils shut. This applies pressure to the septum and can also slow down the bleeding. You may need to repeat these steps for approximately 10 to 15 minutes in order to stop the bleeding completely.

NosebleedsWhen simple methods such as the ones mentioned above fail, your doctor may choose to pack your nose to stop the bleeding. In cases where nosebleeds are severe and chronic, the blood vessels in the nose may need to be cauterized in order to stop the nosebleeds from occurring. This type of procedure is typically done by an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) specialist. An ENT specialist will also be able to look at your nose with a special instrument known as an endoscope, which can be helpful in ruling out sinus disease or any other problems that may be causing your nosebleeds.

You may also be predisposed to developing nosebleeds if you happen to be fighting a viral or bacterial infection (such as the common cold), have a history of both allergic and non-allergic rhinitis, have high blood pressure, or are going through hormonal changes as a result of pregnancy.

Most nosebleeds are not considered serious and generally stop on their own – oftentimes without even needing any special care. However, if your nosebleeds are severe and you are losing large amounts of blood, it is important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.

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The Sinuses and Sinus Infections

Sinus anatomy

The sinuses make up the upper part of our respiratory tract – from the nose all the way down to the throat. They consist of the frontal sinuses, which are located in your forehead, the maxillary sinuses, which are located inside of your cheekbones, and both the ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses, located just behind the nose.

Aside from being responsible for helping us breathe and inhale oxygen, the sinuses are also responsible for our ability to smell and taste, as well as immune system defence. The sinuses also help to keep our noses protected from dust, dirt, micro-organisms and other pollutants.

The sinuses, however, can be a very complex part of the body and there are many health concerns that can arise as a direct result of the sinuses. Some of these problems include having a poor sense of smell, nasal congestion or nasal obstruction, difficulty breathing, allergies, nasal polyps and sinus infections.

Generally, nasal mucus is usually clear. However, when the sinuses become infected, this mucus can change to green or yellow in colour, which is usually indicative that the body is fighting a viral or bacterial infection. Sinus infections can occur on their own or as a complication of the common cold or flu. They are also a top cause for temporary loss of smell and taste. Aside from a change in mucus colour, symptoms of sinus infections also include nasal congestion, facial pain and/or pressure, headache, and even tooth pain.

In order to determine whether or not a sinus infection is truly present, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a family doctor from Vancouver, will usually refer patients for a medical imaging test known as an X-ray. This will take a clear picture of your sinuses and the radiologist responsible for writing the report will then let your physician known if an infection is found. If it is determined that you do, indeed, have a sinus infection, Dr. Ali Ghahary will prescribe the patient with antibiotics. One of the most common antibiotics used to treat sinus infections is Amoxicillin; it is usually a first-choice for physicians due to its high success rate as well as the fact that it has fewer side effects reported in comparison to other antibiotics. For patients who are allergic or sensitive to Amoxicillin, or if it does not clear your sinus infection, other antibiotics that can be used include Clarithromycin (also known as Biaxin) and Clindamycin. It is important to treat sinus infections early to avoid any complications.

If you have persisting sinus infections or sinus problems, talk to your doctor about the possibility of being referred to an ENT – also known as an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist.

Vertigo

Dr. Ali Ghahary - VertigoVertigo is a type of disorder that affects your balance. It is often characterized by dizziness or a sensation that you or the room you are in is spinning. In instances where it feels as though you yourself are moving, this is known as subjective vertigo. If it feels like objects are moving or the room you’re in is spinning, this is known as objective vertigo. As a result of these sensations, it is also not uncommon to experience other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, headaches, and even sweating.

When it comes to diagnosing vertigo, it is important to understand that it is not the same as dizziness despite the two words sometimes being used interchangeably. When you are dizzy, you will feel faint, lightheaded, and unsteady…whereas with vertigo, you will perceive yourself or objects to be moving.

Vertigo can last a few hours to a few days, and in some cases may even take several weeks before it settles down completely. There are many reasons why an individual might develop vertigo, including inner ear infections, such as vestibular neuritis. Vestibular neuritis causes the vestibular nerve to become inflamed and disrupts your sense of balance. You can also develop vertigo as a result of a traumatic head injury, or even by moving a certain way – such as standing up or bending over. This is known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo or BPPV. It can also be a common side effect of medications. If you notice any abnormalities (such as vertigo) while you are taking medications, it is important to avoid operating heavy machinery or driving until you know the side effects have subsided. You should always address any concerns you have about the medications you are taking with your doctor or pharmacy, and also be sure notify them right away of any abnormal side effects. In some cases, your physician may want to change the dose of your medication, or will prescribe you a different medication all together.

Treating vertigo will depend on how severe it is. The best way to prevent vertigo from worsening is to rest in bed and avoid movement as much as possible. When getting out of bed or moving around, it is important to do so slowly and carefully. To treat some of the symptoms that are associated with vertigo, like nausea and vomiting, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends trying over-the-counter antiemetic medications such as Gravol. If that is unsuccessful, a stronger medication called Ondansetron may be prescribed.

If your vertigo worsens or persists, your family physician may need to refer you to an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist or a Neurologist.