DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Are recurring nosebleeds anything to worry about? I seem to have them more often lately. What’s the best way to stop a nosebleed quickly?
ANSWER: Most people experience a nosebleed at one time or another. They tend to happen more often in younger children and older adults. Bleeding often results from a cold, a sinus infection, dry air, a scab being dislodged or use of certain medications, such as nasal steroids. Occasional nosebleeds are nothing to worry about and are not dangerous. But, you may want to talk with your doctor if they are becoming regular and are bothersome.
Most nosebleeds are easily treated with a few simple steps. First of all, make sure you sit up. This decreases the pressure in the veins of your nose, which slows the flow of blood. Leaning slightly forward will help you avoid swallowing blood. Very gently, blow your nose once or twice to remove any clotted blood. Next, pinch the front, soft part of your nose with your thumb and index finger, and breathe through your mouth. Do this for about five minutes. Pressure should stop the flow of blood. Repeat for 10 minutes, if needed.
To keep the bleeding from starting again, don’t pick or blow your nose for a few days, and don’t strain or bend down for several hours. Seek prompt medical care if the bleeding resulted from a head injury or accident, or if it doesn’t stop after 30 minutes.
To help prevent future nosebleeds, keep the interior lining of your nose moist. Regularly apply petroleum jelly inside your nose using a cotton swab up to three times each day. Saline nasal spray also can help moisten dry nasal membranes. Using a humidifier to moisten the air in your home can be helpful, as well.
If you have reoccurring nosebleeds, talk to your doctor about steps you can take to avoid them. Your doctor may want to take a closer look at your nasal passages or refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist. If you are on a blood thinner, your doctor may recommend adjusting the dose. (adapted from Mayo Clinic Health Letter) — Dr. Paul Takahashi, Primary Care Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota