When to Worry About a Nosebleed

Our noses are one of our most distinctive features and their shape and anatomy can vary widely among individuals. Their main function beside smelling -which is very weak in humans compared to animals- is respiration. The only excuse for not breathing through your nose while healthy is if you are snorkeling. While standing, our noses are the most anterior part of the male human body and the second most in females following their breasts. This makes the nose one of the commonest sites of trauma. It doesn’t matter if it was into a super clean glass door, during a fight or into a telephone pole while texting, chances are you have hit your nose hard at least once or twice.

Understanding nasal anatomy

The nose is accommodated to serve its function best by supplying the body with clean, warm and humid oxygen all day long. The nose is formed of a cartilaginous part in front and a bony part at the back and is formed of two nostrils separated by a septum. On both sides of the nose, there are three wide shelves of bones called turbinates covered by a mucous layer to help keep dry air humid while the septum is supplied by a rich network of blood capillaries to help keep the air warm. This rich blood supply of the septum forms a network of vessels called Kiesselbach’s plexus and this is the main site of bleeding per nose. The combination of a thin layer of tissue covering these capillaries and the repeated trauma that the nose is exposed to makes the nose one of the commonest sites of bleeding in the human body.

Bleeding from Kiesselbach’s plexus is called anterior bleeding which forms more than 90% of nasal bleeds while about 10% occur further behind in the nose from greater arteries and branches of the sphenopalatine artery. Bleeding from this site is usually more dangerous and profuse.

» Now, let’s discuss the causes of nosebleed.