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Causes of Nosebleeds in Adults

By Lindsay Boyers ; Updated August 14, 2017

A nosebleed, medically referred to as epistaxis, occurs when the nose hemorrhages and releases blood through the nostrils. Most nosebleeds originate from the nasal septum, but some can come from deeper in the nose. Although a nosebleed may be frightening, most conditions that cause nosebleeds are not serious or life threatening.

Nasal Fracture

A nasal fracture occurs when physical trauma to the nose causes damage or breakage to the bone or cartilage in the nose. Nasal fractures commonly occur as a result of injury during contact sports, falls or car accidents. Immediate and severe pain follows a nasal fracture. After the initial pain, the nose begins to bleed, and breathing becomes difficult. The inside and outside areas of the nose swell, and dark bruises form under and around the eyes, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. If a nasal fracture occurs without any movement of the bone, treatment is not required. Fractures that cause the nose to shift position may require surgery.

Deviated Septum

The nasal septum is a thin wall that separates the nasal cavity into two nasal passages. In an ideal case, the nasal septum divides the nasal passages into two equal spaces. Those with a deviated septum have a nasal septum that is displaced to one side, which makes one of the nasal passages smaller than the other. A deviated septum may be present at birth or may develop later in life as a result of injury to the nose. Symptoms of a deviated septum include nosebleeds, difficulty breathing, nasal congestion, recurring sinus infections and noisy breathing during sleep, according to MayoClinic.com. If symptoms are bearable, adults with a deviated septum may not need treatment. If symptoms are severe and breathing is significantly obstructed, surgery may be needed to correct the deviation.

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Von Willebrand Disease

The blood contains proteins called coagulation factors that allow the blood to clot to stop bleeding. If any of these proteins is missing, the blood cannot clot properly, which results in excessive or abnormal bleeding. Von Willebrand disease is a hereditary condition in which von Willebrand factor is missing from the blood. This results in abnormal menstrual bleeding, bleeding from the gums, excessive bleeding from a cut, bruising, skin rash and nosebleeds. Most cases of von Willebrand disease are mild and can be controlled with medications, according to MedlinePlus. Some cases may require regular injections of blood plasma that contains von Willebrand factor.

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