The purpose of the nose is to warm and humidify the air that we breathe. The nose is lined with many blood vessels that lie close to the surface where they can be injured and bleed. Once a vessel starts to bleed, the bleeding often recurs because the clots or scab is easily dislodged. Nosebleeds, called Epistaxis, can be messy and scary, but often look worse than they are. Most nosebleeds can be managed at home. Some do require medical care.
SOME CAUSES OF NOSEBLEEDS:
- Dry heated air, which dries out the nasal membranes and causes them to become cracked.
- Colds & sinusitis, which involve episodes of sneezing, coughing, and nose blowing
- Vigorous nose blowing or nose picking
- Injury to nose or face
- High blood pressure
- Use of blood thinners
- Deviated septum
- Rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal lining)
HOW TO STOP A NOSEBLEED:
Relax, sit down and lean your body and your head slightly forward, breathe through your mouth, use a tissue or damp washcloth to catch the blood. Use your thumb and index finger to pinch together the soft part of your nose. Make sure to pinch the soft part of the nose against the hard bony ridge that forms the bridge of the nose, squeezing at or above the bony part of the nose will not put pressure where it can help stop bleeding. Keep pinching your nose continuously for at least 5 minutes before checking if the bleeding has stopped. If still bleeding, continue squeezing the nose for another 10 minutes. Once the bleeding stops do not bend over, strain or lift anything heavy and do NOT blow, rub or pick your nose for several days.
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE:
- If you cannot stop the bleeding after 15-20 minutes of applying direct pressure
- If the bleeding is rapid and the blood loss is large (more than a coffee cupful)
- If it is due to an injury, such as a fall
- If you feel weak or faint
- If the blood goes down the back of your throat rather than the front, even after sitting and leaning forward.
- Use a saline nasal spray or saline nose drops 2-3 times a day.
- Add a humidifier to your furnace or run a humidifier in your bedroom at night.
- Avoid blowing your nose too forcefully
- Limit use of medication that can increase bleeding, such as aspirin and ibuprofen
- Consult an allergist if your nasal allergy symptoms are not easily controlled.
- Stop smoking, as smoking dries out your nose and irritates it.