You’ve just felt a little tickle in your nose, and when you go to wipe it away you discover a trickle of bright red blood. Don’t panic; there are several reasons why nosebleeds occur, and not all of them are serious. To stop a nosebleed, staff at the Mayo Clinic recommend remaining upright to avoid extra blood flow to the veins inside your nose. Lean forward and apply pressure to your nose by pinching your nostrils shut for 10 to 15 minutes. Once the bleeding has stopped, you can apply a small amount of petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment to the inside of your nose. This will moisturize the area and prevent more bleeding. Knowing the causes of nosebleeds can help you both prevent them and recognize when you might need to contact your doctor.
10. Dry Air
The number one cause of nosebleeds is dry air. A dusty climate, air conditioning, and the use of central heating all can create a dry atmosphere that dries out nasal membranes. If you live in an arid region or find that heating or air conditioning is drying out your home, use a humidifier to replace moisture in the air and keep your nasal lining happy. A dab of antibiotic ointment gently applied to the inside of your nose with a cotton swab at bedtime can also help lubricate your nasal membranes.
9. Nose Picking
If your nasal passages have become dry, it may be tempting to pick at the crust that forms on your membranes. Don’t do it! Keep your nasal membranes moist with an over-the-counter saline spray or gel and keep those fingers away from your nose. Use a humidifier to keep the air in your home moist and prevent drying out your nasal membranes.
8. Sinus Infection and the Common Cold
Sinus infections are painful and can cause inflammation of your nasal cavities and mucosa. As the lining of your nasal passages becomes irritated, it can bleed. Treatment of the underlying infection and keeping the nasal lining moist with a humidifier, antibiotic ointment, or saline spray will restore your nasal passages to good health. The congestion and runny nose associated with the common cold can lead to excessive nose blowing, which irritates and damages nasal membranes. To decrease trauma to your nasal passages, cover your nose with a tissue and gently blow through both sides at the same time rather than clearing one nostril at a time.
Allergies can be miserable, as they can cause itchy and watery eyes, asthma, fatigue, and nasal congestion. Outdoor allergens such as ragweed, tree pollens, and molds, and indoor allergens such as dust mites or pet dander, can trigger an immune response. Nasal congestion leads to sore, swollen nasal membranes and the production of mucus. Irritated nasal passages and constant nose blowing can cause the blood vessels in your nose to break, leading to nosebleeds. Avoid allergens when possible and treat symptoms when they arise. If you are prone to nosebleeds, blow your nose gently when needed.
There are many prescription and nonprescription medications that can lead to nosebleeds. Anticoagulants such as aspirin, ibuprofen, heparin, and warfarin thin the blood and can cause bleeding. If you take blood thinners, avoid alcohol and cranberries, which can increase the effects of blood thinners. Over-the-counter drugs such as antihistamines dry out the nasal passages, which can cause irritation and bleeding. Nasal steroid sprays used to treat allergies can themselves be irritating to the nasal linings and cause nosebleeds.
The most common airborne irritant is cigarette smoke. Smoke from a wood burning stove can also be irritating to sensitive nasal passages. In addition, those who work around chemicals may be prone to nosebleeds. Industrial Safety and Hygiene News lists several workplace chemicals that can be damaging to nasal membranes. Fiberglass and talc can dry out nasal passages when inhaled. Chromates are known to damage the tissues of the nasal septum. Ammonia and chlorine are strong irritants of the lungs and respiratory system. If you work among these irritants, stay hydrated to keep your body healthy and nasal membranes well lubricated.
It is not surprising that a blow to the face can cause a nosebleed, and the abundant blood supply to the nose means that an injury can result in a real gusher. If you are hit in the nose or face with a ball, run face first into a door, or your nose has the misfortune of meeting up with a fist, follow the usual steps to stop the flow of blood. If your nose continues to bleed for more than twenty minutes, or you suspect a broken nose or internal bleeding, seek medical attention.
3. Polyps or Tumors
Chronic inflammation of the nasal lining can cause nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are small noncancerous growths which often have no symptoms, but in some cases can grow to block your nasal passages. Inverting papillomas are benign (noncancerous) tumors that could possibly develop into cancer. While cancerous tumors of the nasal passages are rare, if you have frequent or unexplained nosebleeds you should consult your physician. Your doctor can rule out cancer of the nasal sinuses or cavities.
Count nosebleeds as one more of the effects the rampant hormones of pregnancy can have on a woman’s body. Drinking plenty of water, using a humidifier in your home, and using saline nasal sprays are all ways to keep the nasal passages lubricated and prevent nosebleeds. Getting plenty of rest and taking time for relaxation will help minimize the emotional stress that can also contribute to nosebleeds.
1. Other Medical Conditions
Nosebleeds can be a sign of a deviated septum. Normally, the nose is divided directly in half. With a deviated septum, the cartilage that separates your left and right nasal passages is displaced over to one side. Frequent nosebleeds may also be a sign of bleeding disorders such as hemophilia, where the blood is not able to clot properly, leading to excessive bleeding. Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT) is a genetic disorder in which blood vessels form abnormally, without capillaries between the arteries and veins. This leads to fragile areas where blood vessels can break and bleed. Consult your doctor if you have recurrent, severe, or uncontrolled nosebleeds.