Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bloody morning


It's ~1 AM and this instant-alert sounds through the house. (Better than a fire alarm, I assure you.)

Last night was her turn, it's my turn now.


I'm there, shuffling the boy into the bathroom where the floor can be cleaned, the light can be lit, and the tissue paper can be had. Yep, he has a bloody nose.

After calming the panic, the solution is easy. Pinch the nose, cool and contract the blood vessels with wet tissue paper. And more calming. Calming is the most important.

"What causes a bloody nose?"

Oh, boy. We'll look it up tomorrow. Sometimes it's because you haven't had enough water, sometimes it's because you're picking your nose too much, sometimes it's because you rub your nose too much, sometimes it just happens.

Calmed, cleaned, and shirt changed. Time to go back to bed.

I wonder if I can ever make those deep breathing exercises actually put me to sleep....


It's 3:30 AM. He is much more calm about it this time. Calm, pinch, wet, calm, clean, back to bed. We'll look it up tomorrow.

"What if the government people who make the computers didn't know what causes bloody noses when they made the computers?"

Oh, boy. So many things to clarify. Not enough sleep. Explain a little about the internet to a 6-year-old at 3:30 AM after two bloody noses and too little sleep.

7:00 AM. We only have 38 minutes to get dressed, make breakfast, and get to the bus stop. For any normal human, this is entirely possible with extra time to read the morning news and maybe even comment on someone's blog. For a super-inquisitive, overly-tired, 6-year-old, it's barely enough time to change into clothing. For a twice-waked 32-year-old grouch, it's barely enough time to get out of bed. I did get my caffeine made without doing anything too stupid, which means I've accomplished a fair amount and may take the rest of the day off.

Enough with the theatrics. Why the bloody noses?
  1. Dry air causes the membranes in the nose to dry out and crack. The blood vessels are right at the surface, so they too dry out and crack.
  2. Picking or excessive rubbing the nose, especially when dry, will cause the blood vessels to burst.
  3. High altitude
  4. Other issues related to actual medical problems.
  5. Injury
Our dear boy has some very-near-to-the-surface blood vessels, so he is especially susceptible to #s 1 and 2 above. I suspect #2 (rubbing) for last night's fun.

How to stop a bloody nose? If it's just a one-time (or occasional) bloody nose that isn't due to injury, nothing more than keeping the nose elevated above the heart, cooling and compressing the ruptured blood vessels (to encourage clotting), and, probably most importantly, staying calm is required.

Do not tilt the head back, as this will allow the blood to flow into the sinuses, into the airway, and down the throat; none of those are places blood should be. Do not tilt the head too far forward, as this will allow more blood to flow, discouraging clotting. Do NOT lower the head below the level of the heart, as gravity will work against instead of with you and allow even more blood to flow, keeping the blood vessels warm and the coagulation from happening.

Literally and figuratively, keep a level head, and compress and cool those blood vessels.

If more than the occasional bloody nose is experienced, there are some home remedies that may or may not work. As a child, we used goldenseal for all kinds of clotting needs. Some people use (by imbibing or by topical application) chili pepper to open up their sinuses, relieving excess pressure. Just avoid excessive response; a little bit of something will help, but too much may cause other irritations or worsen the problem.

If nose bleeds are a regular part of your life, it may be a good idea to speak with your doctor about the problem.


Kerry said...

Is there some way to just keep ALL of the boy's bodily fluids in his body from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00a.m.? Then we'd all get a lot more rest : )

Grumpator said...

One of your best blog posts ever! Enjoy trying out the new patch!

deborah said...

Moses, I really enjoyed the personal touch.=). I wonder if it is herditary? Robert got bloody noses all the time. I didn't know about tilting the head back. I wonder how much blood he imbibed...hmm.

O.K. I know I had a science question for you on Sunday but for the life of me I can't remember it. Do you?