The delicate skin inside your nose is easily irritated and can start bleeding easily. A nosebleed can come from bumping your face, too much time outdoors, or even over-eager cleaning. A deviated septum can also lead to regular nosebleeds, as can medications or street drugs. Treating nosebleeds can be reasonably simple, and they often look worse than they actually are. Thin skin and sensitive nasal passageways can produce a lot of blood for such a small area, but many times, nosebleeds can be treated at home, without the need for medical intervention.
The Two Types of Nosebleeds
Nosebleeds come in two varieties. Anterior nosebleeds occur when the blood vessels in the front of the nose rupture and blood comes out. They are the most common type of nosebleed and typically start with blood suddenly coming out of just one nostril when someone is standing or sitting down. While these can be startling, they’re fairly easy to stop. Posterior nosebleeds begin deep within the nose, which is why the blood from a posterior nosebleed will flow down the back of the mouth and throat, even if you’re not lying down. Determining which type of nosebleed you have can help determine – and prevent – the causes.
Dry Air and Nosebleeds
Many people experience anterior nosebleeds in the winter when their homes are heated with dry, warm air. Those who live in arid, desert climates may experience nosebleeds in the summer months, as well. Lack of humidity – moisture in the air – can lead to nosebleeds easily. That air dries out the nasal passageways, making them more susceptible to bleeding. Dry, hot air evaporates the mucus in your nose, leading to irritation and slight nosebleeds.
Foreign Objects in the Nose
Inserting small objects into the nose is almost a rite of passage for children, but these rough items can easily damage the skin inside little noses. If a child has a foreign object lodged in their nose, gently blow it out from the other nostril, to avoid scraping the nasal skin and causing nosebleeds. Similarly, excessive picking of the nose can lead to nosebleeds. Use a soft tissue to dislodge excess mucus or dirt, instead of your finger. The abrasions caused by your nails can give you a nosebleed.
Respiratory Conditions and Nosebleeds
Wintertime can be nosebleed time for many. Between harsh, dry air and upper respiratory infections such as colds or sinusitis- especially if these infections include repeated sneezing, coughing and nose blowing – nosebleeds are common. Luckily, choosing to use tissue with aloe, or gently patting the interior of your nostrils versus rubbing, can prevent or lessen nosebleeds.Nosebleeds can occur any time of the year for those who have either allergic or non-allergic rhinitis. The nosebleeds for these conditions occur in a similar fashion to those that stem from a cold or the flu. Sleeping with a humidifier may also help allergy sufferers by preventing over-irritated nasal passageways from drying out during the night.
Medication, Drugs, and Nosebleeds
Certain medications, especially those with side effects like dry mouth, can dry the mucus in your nose. Many different types of SSRIs and anti-anxiety medications, as well as certain types of nasal sprays, can cause the mucous membranes in your body to dry out, leading to nosebleeds. Drug abuse can be another common cause of nosebleeds. If you choose to use street drugs, you may be harming the delicate skin in your nose and weakening the ability of your nasal passageway to heal and maintain moisture. If this is a struggle for you, consult with a physcian immediately.
Remain Calm During a Nosebleed
Sudden bleeding from the nose can harm even the toughest person. Unless you’ve taken a direct hit to the face, a nosebleed can often come as a surprise. The best way to soothe a nosebleed is to sit quietly and remain calm. Taking slow breaths in and out of your mouth can help you relax: the tiny blood vessels in your nose will constrict, which slows and eventually stops the bleeding. If you are with someone who has a nosebleed, remind them that it will be over very soon, and provide them with tissues or a handkerchief to clean up. Find them somewhere to sit quietly, and allow the bleeding to stop naturally.
Lean Forward and Pinch
If there is a steady stream of blood, you might need to do more than sit and wait it out. While seated, lean forward and pinch the bridge of your nose. Sit down, don’t lie down, and allow the blood to come out your nose, instead of running down the back of your throat toward your stomach. The latter can lead to an upset stomach. Once you’re properly seated, squeeze the soft middle area of your nose using your index finger and thumb to close your nostrils. Continue to pinch for at least five minutes; ideally ten to fifteen. If you release and blood is still coming out, repeat. Remember to breathe calmly through an open mouth while pinching.
To help constrict the tiny blood vessels in your nose that are bleeding, you can hold a cold compress against your nose for a few minutes. The coldness of the compress will encourage the nose’s interior blood vessels to narrow, which should help stop the bleeding. It can also help to apply an ice pack to the back of your neck briefly.
Keep Your Nostrils Clear
Watching and feeling blood come out of your nose can be unsettling, but there are a few things to you should not do to stop the bleeding. Often, people have an initial reaction to plug the bleeding nostril; however, this can lead to further irritation and inhibit your nose’s natural healing process. It’s perfectly fine and expected that you use a tissue, paper towel or cloth to catch the blood coming out of your nose, but according to experts, packing the nostrils with tissue or cotton can remove the top layer of the nose lining, making it bleed more easily.
Severe Effects of a Nosebleed
While most nosebleeds are benign, there are a few reasons that you should seek medical attention. If a nosebleed occurs in a child under two years, contact a pediatrician. Other concerns include nosebleeds that occur after an injury or car accident and those with an excessive amount of blood.A nosebleed that lasts for over thirty minutes may indicate a more serious health issue, as can one that makes breathing more difficult. If you feel faint, ask for assistance in seeking medical attention.