ENT Answers: What You Need to Know About Nosebleeds

Ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Joseph Donzelli of Midwest ENT answers the most-asked questions from patients like you.

A lot of folks in our area get nosebleeds. So here is some local advice from local ear, nose and throat experts on what to do about them.


Q. What common causes of nosebleeds?

A. The most common causes of nosebleeds, otherwise known as Epistaxis, include local trauma – picking the nose, high blood pressure, infection and the use of blood thinners including drugs such as aspirin, Coumadin and Plavix. An over dry and crusted nose can also result in a nosebleed. Some uncommon causes include tumors of the nose, previous surgery and genetic bleeding and clotting disorders.

Q. Are there different types of nosebleeds?

A. Yes, nosebleeds are categorized based on where they originate. They can either be described as anterior (coming out the front of the nose) or posterior (going down the back of the throat). Anterior nosebleeds are the most common and easiest to control.               

Q. How do you stop a nosebleed?

A. You can stop a nosebleed by pinching your nostrils shut and tilting your head slightly forward to try to prevent the swallowing any blood. It’s best to stay relaxed and allow the blood to clot naturally. Panic and/or anxiety will only raise your blood pressure, which will in turn increase the bleeding. You can also try a nasal spray (i.e. Afrin) as a constrictor of blood vessels. Do not put your head below the knees or lay flat as this will increase your blood pressure and create more bleeding. If bleeding does not stop within 5 to 10 minutes, you should seek medical help.

Q. What precautions can you take to prevent your nose from bleeding?

A. Be sure to consistently moisturize your nose with saline nasal spray and keep your blood pressure controlled. Also, don’t over use aspirin or ibuprofen products, and do not your pick nose (silly, but true!). Do not use Vaseline products in the nose as they can produce more irritation than help.

Q. When should you consult a doctor regarding you nosebleeds?

A. If your nosebleed is reoccurring and frequently out of the same side of your nose, you should consult your doctor. If you find that the nose bleeds are associated with double vision, headaches, nasal obstruction or bruised skin, or with skin that suddenly develops red dots, consult a doctor immediately.

Q. Are nosebleeds more common in children than in adults?

A. Nosebleeds are irritants to both adults and kids equally, requiring only simple measures of saline sprays and antibiotic ointments. Adults, however, often have other problems that may make their nose bleeds more severe, including, but not limited to: hypertension, blood thinners and alcohol use. In these patients, packing and sometimes surgical treatment and transfusions may be required.


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