A bloody nose can range from a mere annoyance to a frightening event leading to an emergency room visit or even a prolonged hospital stay with possible surgical intervention and blood transfusions. Minor nosebleeds are quite common and can be caused by nasal trauma, picking the nose, nasal and sinus infections, allergies and even prescription nasal sprays. Nosebleeds are far more common in the cold winter months, as drier air leads to nasal dryness. Older patients, and those on blood thinning medications, are at greater risk for severe bleeding.
When it comes to nasal bleeding, an ounce of prevention is priceless! A humidifier on your home furnace is a good start, but an extra table-top humidifier in the bedroom can make a big difference. Nasal saline GEL, administered in a spray is available over the counter by a number of manufacturers. Using this spray can provide great relief to dry noses. For those taking prescription allergy nasal sprays, be sure to aim outward when using the spray. When these medications are repeatedly sprayed on the nasal septum in the middle of the nose, this area is more prone to bleeding. Make sure you know how many blood thinners you are taking. Many supplements, including fish oil, are blood thinners! Discuss the risks and benefits of all your medications and supplements with your primary care physician.
So you are doing all the right things, but you still get a nose bleed. What do you do? To stop active bleeding, pinch the soft part of the end of the nose together, as if a skunk just sprayed you! This will hold direct pressure on the bleeding vessel in most cases. Lean forward so any blood will run out of the nose or mouth, not back into the throat. Holding pressure for 5-10 minutes will stop the bleeding in most cases. Another option is to soak a cotton ball in Afrin or Neo-Synephrine nasal spray and place the cotton ball in the bleeding nostril. These medications constrict bleed vessels and can stop or slow the bleeding. If bleeding continues, or is severe, you may need to go the emergency room, not just to control the bleeding, but to investigate any underlying causes such as high blood pressure or blood clotting disorders including high levels of blood thinners.