Nosebleeds can be your body’s response to several factors. Seasonal allergies, injury or trauma to the nose, repeated sneezing, cold air, certain medications, chemical irritants and nose-picking can all lead to bleeding in the nose. Luckily, very few reasons for a nosebleed indicate any sort of serious medical problem.
For more insight on how to handle nosebleeds, we asked Mountainside Medical Group’s otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon Mina Le, M.D.
“Most nosebleeds share the same origins,” Dr. Le said. “Almost all nosebleeds start near the front of the nose, on either side of the septum, the structure that divides your left nasal passage from your right nasal passage. The bleeding starts when the mucous membrane lining on your nasal septum cracks open. This tends to happen when the inside of your nose gets dry, common in the winter when you have the heat on, and also happens when the lining of your nose is damaged from too much nose-blowing or nose-picking.”
In some instances, nosebleeds may be triggered by underlying conditions and certain medications.
“High blood pressure and blood thinners, like aspirin, warfarin and others, commonly cause nosebleeds,” Dr. Le said. “If you suffer from recurrent nosebleeds, you can check with your primary care doctor to see whether your blood pressure can be better controlled, whether you really need to be on aspirin and whether you can try an alternative blood thinner if you need one.”
While nosebleeds typically begin without warning, they don’t always subside as quickly, but there are a few tricks to minimize the severity of a nosebleed.
“To stop the bleeding, try to lean forward so the blood doesn’t go down your throat,” Dr. Le said. “Pinch the fleshy part of your nose so that you’re collapsing both nostrils and compressing the septum. Hold pressure firmly for ten to fifteen minutes. For frequent nosebleeds, you may want to have Afrin spray on hand. It’s a medication that constricts blood vessels and can be bought over the counter. Spray Afrin inside both nostrils and resume holding pressure.”
If nosebleeds persist, make a habit out of moisturizing your nasal cavity to minimize your chance of a nosebleed before it begins.
“The key is to aggressively moisturize the lining of your nose so that it won’t crack,” Dr. Le said. “Buy nasal saline spray at the drugstore and apply it several times a day. Apply AYR nasal gel or Aquaphor just inside the nostrils at bedtime. Sleep with a bedside humidifier. Avoid excessive nose-blowing and nose-picking.”
Although it’s rare, if you’re struggling to manage a nosebleed on your own, you may need to see a medical professional to help you get the bleeding under control.
“If nosebleeds are so frequent and severe that they are interfering with your life, or if a single nosebleed won’t stop despite the steps outlined above, seek medical attention,” Dr. Le said. “You may need to have your nose packed or cauterized. After treatment, keep your nasal lining well-moisturized.”
Mina Le, M.D. is an otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon with Mountainside Medical Group. She sees patients in the Mountainside Medical Office Building located at 311 Bay Avenue, Suite 300, in Glen Ridge, NJ. New patients are welcome and may visit www.mountainsidemedicalgroup.com to request an appointment or call 973-798-477.