Bloody Noses

Okay, I give up. Every year, I serve as part of the “medical staff” for the state basketball tournament that is held in our town. And every year, someone gets a bloody nose by the throw of an elbow or the bump of someone’s head.

Then I go nuts watching the trainer or other appointed personnel working to get it stopped. How they do it is what both amuses me and yet, also drives me nuts. I saw it happen again during the NCAA basketball playoffs this weekend on national TV so I finally have to say something.

This effort usually includes grabbing the nose, throwing the head back, and applying ice to the neck. Now let’s just think about this process for a moment.

The key word is PRESSURE. Everyone learns this by third grade. “If there is bleeding, apply pressure.”  Now back to the nose. If we look structurally, proximal (at the bridge where one’s glasses may sit) the nose is made of bone, and then distal (where people tend to pick it), flexible cartilage.  Applying pressure to the bony aspect will get you no where except tired. If the bleeding is high up in the nose, you need to apply pressure from within. This is only accomplished by sticking tissue UP THE NOSE.

In the ER we use a “nose rocket” that applies inner pressure as it swells. This happens as the rocket absorbs blood and other fluids. Although this looks badly, it works.

Throwing the head back only makes the blood run down the back of the throat. What good is that? And ice on the neck? I’ll take that in my cup with a diet Pepsi please.