Your nose is filled with many small blood vessels which can bleed easily especially when exposed to trauma, nose-picking, dry climates, and allergens. One out of seven people in the US have experienced a nosebleed sometime in their lifetime. Patients on blood thinners like aspirin and Plavix are more prone to nosebleeds because of the difficulty with clotting. Most nosebleeds occur at the front of the nose (Kiesselbach’s plexus) and stop spontaneously or with pressure. Nosebleeds that occur at the back of the nose are not as common and are more difficult to control and thus often need to be treated with nasal packing or surgery. These patients often are older, they may have problems with high blood pressure or have sustained facial trauma.
How do I stop a nosebleed?
Remain calm, sit up and lean forward. This allows the blood to escape from the front of your nose or out of your mouth instead of dripping down the throat, which can lead to nausea and vomiting. Pinch the soft part of your nose (not the bone) with your thumb and index finger for 10 minutes by the clock. If the bleeding does not stop after 10 minutes, gently blow the clots from your nose and use over the counter Afrin (Oxymetazoline), 2 sprays in each nostril and pinch your nose again for 10 minutes. If the bleeding continues despite these measures, go to the nearest emergency room.
How do I prevent nosebleeds?
Avoid traumatizing your nose. Do not put anything, including your finger, into your nose. Avoid blowing your nose for at least 1 week.
The tissue inside your nose does best when it is moist, thus healing occurs more efficiently when the nasal tissue is moist. Use over the counter saline sprays, 2 sprays each nostril for 3-4 times a day for at least 2 weeks, taking care not to hit your septum (the structure dividing your nose into left and right), which contains many blood vessels. Spray directly back and to the same side, as if you are trying to spray your ear through your nose. At bedtime, place a pea-sized portion of Vaseline petroleum jelly, antibiotic ointment or saline gels just into the nostril. Use a humidifier at nighttime.
Stop smoking. The irritation from smoke leads to dryness and increases the risk of nosebleeds.
Keep your blood pressure controlled. High blood pressure damages blood vessels.