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Pediatric epistaxis: epidemiology, management & impact on quality of life.

OBJECTIVE: Epistaxis in the pediatric population is a common problem for both primary care physicians (PCPs) and otolaryngologists. Although a frequent reason for referral to ENT clinics, data is lacking regarding causes, effects on quality of life and common treatment modalities.

METHODS: Prospective, clinical and questionnaire based study, with ethical approval. We identified 50 cases of pediatric epistaxis (<16 years old) over a 6-month period. A thorough clinical history was taken, first aid measures and management outcome was recorded. The impact of recurring epistaxis on parental quality of life was assessed using the Parental Stress Index Short Form (PSISF).

RESULTS: Thirty-three males and 17 females (2:1) were included. Mean age at presentation was 8.8 years. Initial management was inadequate, with only 30% of carers applying appropriate first aid measures. Quality of life was significantly affected in 10% of cases with primary parental concerns being fear of excessive blood loss and the stress of soiled bedclothes and night wear. Children were most affected by the negative impact on sporting activity. Otolaryngology consultation found the common causes to be iatrogenic trauma and rhinitis affecting "Littles" area. Of which 78% required silver nitrate cautery, and 22% just required reassurance and advice

CONCLUSIONS: Recurrent minor nosebleeds in children can be troublesome and alarming for parents and children. We found the PSISF an easy and reliable method of assessing patient and parental stress in dealing with this problem. Raising awareness of simple management strategies among parents and PCPs could significantly reduce associated quality of life issues. Mucosal hydration, cautery and first aid advice are the fundamentals of management.

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