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FAQ – Nose Bleeds

Read more about Nose bleeds

If frequent nosebleeds are a problem, it is important to consult an otolaryngologist. An ear, nose, and throat specialist will carefully examine the nose using an endoscope, a tube with a light for seeing inside the nose, prior to making a treatment recommendation. Two of the most common treatments are cautery and packing the nose. Cautery is a technique in which the blood vessel is burned with an electric current, silver nitrate, or a laser. Sometimes, a doctor may just pack the nose with special gauze or an inflatable latex balloon to put pressure on the blood vessel.

  • Stay calm, or help a young child stay calm. A person who is agitated may bleed more profusely than someone who has been reassured and supported.
  • Keep head higher than the level of the heart. Sit up.
  • Lean slightly forward so the blood will not drain in the back of the throat.
  • Using the thumb and index finger, pinch all the soft parts of the nose or place a cotton ball soaked with Afrin, Neo-Synephrine, or Dura-Vent spray into the nostril and apply pressure. The area where pressure should be applied is located between the end of the nose and the hard, bony ridge that forms the bridge of the nose. Do not pack the inside of the nose with gauze or cotton.
  • Apply ice-crushed in a plastic bag or washcloth to nose and cheeks.
  • Hold the position for five minutes. If it is still bleeding, hold it again for an additional 10 minutes.
  • Keep the lining of the nose moist by gently applying a light coating of petroleum jelly or an antibiotic ointment with a cotton swab three times daily, including at bedtime. Commonly used products include Bacitracin A and D Ointment, Eucerin, Polysporin, and Vaseline.
  • Keep children’s fingernails short to discourage nose picking.
  • Counteract the effects of dry air by using a humidifier.
  • Use a saline nasal spray to moisten dry nasal membranes.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking dries out the nose and irritates it.

Causes of recurring nosebleeds

  • Allergies, infections, or dryness that cause itching and lead to picking of the nose.
  • Vigorous nose blowing that ruptures superficial blood vessels.
  • Clotting disorders that run in families or are due to medications.
  • Drugs (such as anticoagulants or anti-inflammatories).
  • Fractures of the nose or the base of the skull. Head injuries that cause nosebleeds should be regarded seriously.
  • Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, a disorder involving a blood vessel growth similar to a birthmark in the back of the nose.
  • Tumours – both malignant and non-malignant – have to be considered, particularly in the older patient or in smokers.

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