Most young adults tend to ignore nose bleeding as it is nothing severe to worry about. However, when compared to the young generation, a nose bleed in the elderly can be a symptom of something severe that requires immediate medical attention.
According to medical experts, frequent or heavy nose bleeding in older adults could be a sign of arterial hypertension, cardiovascular disease, coagulation disorder, and various other serious health conditions. Even if it is mere dry air that causes frequent or heavy nose bleeding in the elderly, the best is to get medical treatment. Before jumping onto the reasons for nose bleeding, let us understand what happens when the nose starts bleeding.
What is Nose Bleeding?
Nose bleeding or nasal bleeding is the loss of blood from the tissue that lines the inside of the nose. It is common as the location of the nose is such that it is surrounded by numerous blood vessels. Any injury in and around the nose thus leads to immediate nose bleeding. There are two main types of nose bleeding.
1. Anterior - An anterior nose bleed starts in the front of the nose on the lower part of the inner wall of the nose that separate the two nostrils. The blood vessels and capillaries in this part of the nose are fragile and can easily break. This is the most common type and can be treated at home.
2. Posterior - A posterior nose bleed occurs deep inside the nose due to the breakage of a larger blood vessel, usually at the back part near the throat. This damage causes heavy nose bleeding and required immediate medical treatment. This type of nose bleed is common in the elderly.
What Causes Nose Bleeding?
There are many reasons behind nose bleeding, dry air being the most common one. The good news is that most of them are not serious and can be treated with home remedies. However, nose bleed causes in the elderly could be something serious and hence one should immediately consult a doctor.
To put you at ease when taking care of elderly people at home, we have collated a list of common nose bleeding or nasal bleeding causes in the elderly
1. Underlying Health Condition
Health problems like liver disease and kidney disease are among the major reasons behind nose bleeding in the elderly. These conditions can lower the blood’s ability to stay in the right consistency and hence results in an easy flow. This blood comes out of the most vulnerable part of your body, which is the nose and causes frequent nose bleeding. Other reasons may include high blood pressure and congestive heart failure that causes a rapid increase in the flow of blood, thereby damaging the blood vessels.
2. Dry Air
Dry air is among the most common causes of anterior nasal bleeding, which is not that serious and easily treated at home. This is because the dryness in the air irritates the nasal membrane and causes crusts. These crusts, when scratched or itched, can result in nose bleeding. As the skin gets thinner with age, the risk of damage also increases. Even a slight prick or scratch can create a cut deep enough to break the blood vessel. Similar damage may occur when forcefully cleaning the nose or blowing too hard.
3. Blood Thinning Medication
Blood-thinning or anticoagulant medicines like aspirin do not cause nose bleeding themselves. However, their properties to reduce blood clots and bring back the blood’s actual consistency can be a reason behind nose bleeding. If the dosage of the medication is not monitored, the blood will not be able to form clots to seal the wounds, leading to a frequent or heavy flow immediately after a cut or scratch that prevails for longer than usual.
4. Bleeding Disorders
Bleeding disorders like haemophilia or von Willebrand disease can also be some of the causes of nasal bleeding. Such conditions occur when the blood loses its ability to clot. In normal clotting, platelets stick together and form a seal at the site of injury. However, in case of bleeding disorders, the blood is unable to seal the injury, thus resulting in the free flow of blood in case an injury occurs inside the nose.
5. High Altitude
Another one of the most common reasons for nose bleeding in the elderly is being up at a very high altitude, especially in the case of the elderly. As one climbs higher, the amount of oxygen in the air decreases, making the air thinner and drier. This, in turn, causes the already fragile inner lining of the nose to crack and eventually bleed. However, this is not a serious problem and can be immediately treated by pinching the nose.
6. Respiratory Infection
An upper respiratory tract infection often results in nose bleeding as the inner lining of the nose is irritated by the mucus. Sometimes, the infection is accompanied by frequent sneezing and coughing, which may irritate the skin further. These reasons along with the efforts to clean the nasal passage like blowing or nasal sprays can cause nasal bleeding.
7. Facial or Nasal Surgery
Minor nasal bleeding is common after facial or nasal surgery and, in fact, a part of the healing process. However, when the bleeding prevails for longer or is heavy in flow, one may have to consult a doctor to seek immediate treatment and also look for possible reasons other than the surgery itself.
We hope that the given information helped make you understand the causes of nose bleeding in the elderly. In case of further assistance or requirement of elderly health service, you can get in touch with Emoha where it is always #EldersFirst.