Nasal packing is a common medical procedure that is performed to control epistaxis (bleeding from the nose).
Nasal packing may be “anterior” nasal packing that is done by using a gauze inserted inside the nasal cavity after numbing the nasal area. The doctor will douse the gauze in an antibiotic ointment and a medication that squeezes the blood vessels shut.
In case of extensive bleeding, the doctor may need to supplement the anterior nasal pack with the posterior nasal pack. Posterior packing is done with a sterile gauze covered in an antiseptic ointment, a rubber balloon called a catheter or a nasal sponge/tampon.
Most modern posterior nasal packs contain a balloon that can be inflated with a syringe. This arrangement helps in applying an adjustable direct pressure to the site of the nosebleed.
Sometimes both the nasal cavities may need occlusion. The nasal pack is kept inside the nose for 24-48 hours.
What are the other treatments for epistaxis?
Nasal packing is one of the primary procedures in the initial management of epistaxis. If it fails to stop the bleeding, the doctor resorts to the following treatments:
- Cauterization: This procedure stops the bleeding by burning off the cauterized blood vessels. The heat is created either by applying silver nitrate (a chemical) or by passing an electric current.
- Discontinuation of medications: Certain medications can increase the amount of bleeding. These include blood-thinning medications, such as Warfarin and Aspirin. Reducing or stopping such medications can be helpful.
- Prescription medication: Your doctor may prescribe you medications to control your blood pressure. Another medication such as Lysteda (tranexamic acid), which helps in clotting of the blood to stop bleeding, may be prescribed.
- Foreign body removal: A foreign body in the nose is most commonly seen in children due to any accidental insertion. If this is the cause of the nosebleed, the doctor will attempt to remove the foreign body.
- Ligation: The blood vessel that is responsible for bleeding is tied off to stop the bleeding.
- Surgery: If your nose is bleeding due to a trauma or an injury or due to a deviated nasal septum, your doctor may recommend surgical repair of the nose.
How can you prevent epistaxis?
Most often, epistaxis is a preventable condition. Here is what you can do to reduce your risk of getting it:
- Keep your nostrils moist:
- Use saline nasal spray/nose drops two to three times a day.
- Make use of a humidifier in your bedroom to add moisture to the air.
- Apply water-soluble nasal gels in your nostrils with a cotton swab. You can find various gels, such as Bacitracin or Ayr Gel, available over the counter.
- Do not blow your nose too forcefully.
- If you feel like sneezing, do so by keeping your mouth open. Always sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm.
- Avoid frequent picking your nose.
- Visit your doctor if you are not able to control nose allergies (such as atrophic rhinitis) that cause dryness.
- Quit smoking. Smoking dries out your nose and can make you prone to epistaxis.
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Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
Deviated SeptumA deviate septum is a condition that may require surgery. With a deviated septum, the bone and cartilage that divide the nasal cavity of the nose in half (nasal septum) is significantly off-center or crooked. The causes of a deviated septum can be congenital, or develop after a trauma or injury to the nose. Symptoms of a deviated septum include nasal congestion, recurrent sinus infections, nosebleeds, headache, facial pain, postnasal drip, snoring, and loud breathing. A deviated septum can be relieved with medications and, if necessary, a surgery called septoplasty.
How Do I Stop Sneezing and a Runny Nose?When you have a cold, certain chemicals (histamines) are secreted by your body; these may lead to sneezing, a runny nose, and watery eyes.
How Do You Clear a Baby's Stuffy Nose?Stuffy noses in babies can make them irritable and cranky. It’s hard for babies to breathe and eat when they have a stuffy nose, and this makes many parents anxious. Babies may find it difficult to sleep as well.
ipratropiumIpratropium is a medication used to relieve runny nose and nasal inflammation (rhinitis) caused by colds and allergies, and as a bronchodilator to relieve bronchospasm and ease breathing in chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Common side effects of intranasal ipratropium include headache, upper respiratory tract infection (URI), nasal bleeding (epistaxis), throat inflammation (pharyngitis), and others. Common side effects of intranasal ipratropium include bronchial inflammation (bronchitis), exacerbation of COPD, sinus inflammation (sinusitis), shortness of breath (dyspnea), cough, flulike symptoms, back pain, and others.
NosebleedNosebleeds are common in dry climates during winter months, and in hot dry climates with low humidity. People taking blood clotting medications, aspirin, or anti-inflammatory medications may be more prone to nosebleeds. Other factors that contribute to nosebleed are trauma (including nose picking, especially in children), rhinitis (both allergic and nonallergic), and high blood pressure. First-aid treatments for a nosebleed generally do not need medical care. Frequent or chronic nosebleeds may require medical treatment such as over-the-counter (OTC) medication, and prevention of nose picking.
What Your Nose Says About Your HealthDo you smell something no one else does? Is it hard to breathe? Different conditions affect smell and breathing. Use this WebMD slideshow to help you learn what your nose says about health.