Nosebleeds are relatively common, especially in children, according to NHS Choices. They occur when the tiny blood vessels in your nose are disturbed or become inflamed due to infection or increased pressure -- such as when you blow your nose or even hold your breath when swimming.
Causes of Nosebleeds
The insides of your nostrils contain numerous small, sensitive blood vessels, and two of the most common ways to burst them and cause a nosebleed are to blow your nose forcefully or injure your nose, notes NHS Choices. A nosebleed -- known medically as epistaxis -- can also occur if the mucus membrane that keeps your nostrils moist becomes dry and crusty, especially if you then pick at the crust. Colds and infection are two more causes of nosebleeds as these conditions inflame the blood vessels, sometimes to bursting point. Nosebleeds are particularly common in children and in people who are taking blood-thinning medication, such as aspirin.
Nosebleeds and Swimming
According to HemophiliaNavigator.com, swimming pools that are highly chlorinated can cause nosebleeds. This is because the chlorine can irritate and dry out your nasal passages and delicate nasal blood vessels and exacerbate sinustitis -- which is another cause of nosebleeds, notes SinusWars. The sudden change in pressure that occurs when you dive into water may also cause a nosebleed. If you dive you are particularly susceptible to nosebleeds because of the pressure that can build up in your face mask or in your nasal passages as you descend or ascend too quickly.
Types of Nosebleed
There are two types of nosebleeds: anterior and posterior, according to NHS Choices. Anterior nosebleeds originate at the front of your nose in the blood vessels of the septum, which is the wall that separates your two nostrils. This type of nosebleed is most common in children. It is most likely to occur due to a knock, forceful nose blowing, nose picking, changes in air pressure and allergies -- such as a sensitivity to chlorine. Posterior nosebleeds occur further back in your nasal cavity and are more likely to need medical attention than the anterior variety. They are also more common in adults than children. Causes include nose surgery, high blood pressure and hardened arteries, blood-thinning medication, exposure to chemicals, calcium deficiency and, in more serious cases, a nasal tumor.
Treatment and Precautions
Nosebleeds are usually not serious and, regardless of what type you have, you should first stop the bleeding by sitting down and pinching the soft part of your nose, over your nostrils. Avoid lying down as this will cause the blood to flow toward your head, increasing the pressure on the blood vessels in your nose. Lean slightly forward while you're pinching your nose to encourage the blood to flow out through your mouth rather than down the back of your throat. You may need to keep pinching your nose for up to 20 minutes before your blood clots and the bleeding eases. Applying an ice pack to your cheek or nose can also help ease the bleeding and discomfort. If the bleeding doesn't stop after 20 minutes, or you have frequent nose bleeds, you should see your doctor.