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It’s fair to say we all have had a nosebleed at some point in our lives. They are extremely common and can happen for many reasons, but when you see a child with one, they are that much more frightening, especially if you’re the parent of the child. A million questions race through your mind, concerned and panicked that it is due to a broken nose or a head injury. Fortunately, we live in a world with plenty of methods to treat a nosebleed, one of them being nasal cauterization—a simple procedure that can drastically improve your child’s quality of life.
Nasal cautery, or nasal cauterization, is a procedure used to treat nosebleeds, also known as epistaxis. This procedure is when a chemical or electrical device is applied to the mucous membranes in the nose to stop the bleeding. This is performed with topical anesthetics, usually in an operating room under general anesthesia. Sometimes this procedure is performed in conjunction with other procedures to improve nasal breathing such as sinus surgery, nasal endoscopy, or septoplasty.
Typically, children benefit from nasal cautery when they have recurrent nosebleeds. These episodes can occur from a prominent blood vessel in the nose that bleeds from trauma (nose picking, rubbing the nose, or bumping the nose), and from drying of the mucous membranes lining the nose. Certain underlying medical conditions can make children more prone to nosebleeds, including individual or familial bleeding disorders, platelet disorders, cancers, or medications used to treat other conditions.
If an underlying medical condition or medication is the cause of the nosebleeds, first attempts are aimed to treat or to remove these sources of the tendency for bleeding. In addition, nasal creams, ointments, gels, nasal saline spray, and increased environmental humidification can help improve nosebleeds by decreasing the dryness in the nose. This makes the nose less prone to bleeding and for young children, it’s best to avoid nose-picking. If nosebleeds continue despite these attempts, nasal cautery may be recommended.
The procedure is typically performed either in the pediatric ENT clinic procedure room or in an operating room. The procedure only takes 5-10 minutes but may take longer depending on the severity and any additional combined procedures planned. The surgeon will provide an idea of how much time is expected, but this may change during the procedure.
After the procedure, your child may be asked to stay in the hospital, but in most cases, this won’t happen. When home, Tylenol or Ibuprofen is typically appropriate for pain control. Sometimes stronger narcotic pain medications may be prescribed for additional pain control. Also, the use of topical moisturizing and/or antibiotic ointment in the nose is recommended after the procedure. This will help with healing and decreases crusting. If the child develops any concerning symptoms after the procedure, including pauses in breathing, color change of the skin (particularly if the lips, face, or hands are turning blue), appearing lethargic or tired, severe bleeding, or any other sudden change from his/ her normal behavior, please seek immediate medical attention.
As we know, nose cautery can help prevent nosebleeds. The healthcare provider uses a chemical swab or an electric current to cauterize the inside of the nose. This seals the blood vessels and builds scar tissue to help prevent more bleeding. For this procedure, the provider will numb the inside of your child’s nose and once the procedure is finished, your child may feel itching and pain in the nose for 3 to 5 days but not to worry, over-the-counter pain medicines can help with the pain! Keep in mind, your child may want to touch, scratch, or pick at the inside of the nose. Make sure to watch your child carefully so you can stop them before any touching or picking because this will cause more nosebleeds.
It’s important to keep a lookout for any signs of distress in your child and to know when you should contact your provider. If your child has pain that does not get better after your child takes pain medicine, they get another nosebleed and the nose is still bleeding after you have pinched the nose shut 3 times for 10 minutes each time, they have a fever or if your child does not get better as expected, then it may be time to bring your child back in for a check-up.
If you feel that your child may need nasal cauterization, it’s best not to wait, hoping they will get better on their own. We live in a country that has more than enough reliable healthcare providers, Chai Care being one of them! Our trained experts will always be here to help in a time of need and will make sure your youngster is back to normal in no time!
* Legal disclaimer: The content of this article and the entire Chai Care blog is for educational purposes only; it does NOT constitute medical advice and must not be considered as such. Please consult a medical professional regarding any symptoms or health concerns you or your loved ones.