What Is the Medical Term for a Nosebleed

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The medical term for a nosebleed is “epistaxis”, which comes from the Ancient Greek word έπίσταξις (or “Επίσταξη” in modern Greek) and roughly translates as “to drip from the nose”. 

It is usually described as either “anterior” or “posterior”, with the majority of cases occurring in the anterior part of the nose.

Anterior Epistaxis

“Anterior” comes from the Latin word meaning “before” and refers to the front part of the nose and specifically the “wall” that separates the two nostrils, known as the “septum”.

The majority of nosebleeds are anterior, and most have direct causes, including nose picking and trauma. They tend to be harmless and are usually self-limiting, which means they will go away on their own.

Most broken blood vessels stem from the Kiesselbach’s plexus, a bundle of delicate vessels that feeds the septum wall. This area is named for Wilhelm Kiesselbach, an ear, nose, and throat doctor who published a paper on the area in the late 19th century.

Posterior Epistaxis

“Posterior” comes from the Latin word for “post” or “after” and refers to a nosebleed that occurs at the back of your nose.

They tend to be heavier than anterior nosebleeds and are also more dangerous, as a lot of the blood may flow down the back of the throat, causing breathing difficulties.

Other Medical Terms Concerning the Nose

The medical sector is heavily influenced by Latin and Greek and borrows a lot of words from these two languages. It can be a little confusing if you have no experience in these languages or the fields of medicine and biology, but every medical term has a commonly used English one or an easily understood description, including:

  • Rhinitis = Stuffy Nose.
  • Septum = Cartilage that separates the nostrils.
  • Epistaxis Digitorum = Nose Picking.
  • Septal Perforation = A condition in which the septum becomes damaged.
  • Septal Deviation = A displacement of the septum.
  • Foreign Bodies = External objects that have entered the body. Where the nose is concerned, it refers to items that have been lodged up the nose.
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