Causes of Frequent Nosebleeds

Frequent nosebleeds can be caused by a number of different things. Most commonly, they are caused by:Man with bloody nose

  • Blowing or picking the nose

  • Improper nose function (from structural problems, either present at birth or from an injury)

  • Dry weather

  • Colds or allergies

  • Minor injuries to the nose

  • Medicines (like aspirin)1

  • High altitude

Less common causes for frequent nosebleeds include:

  • Non-allergic rhinitis

  • Hypertension

  • Alcohol abuse

  • Inherited bleeding problem2

  • Rupture of blood vessels

  • Drug abuse (such as snorting cocaine or glue sniffing)

What’s Happening on the Inside?

Nose functions are more complex than most people imagine; three-quarters of the nasal channel is hidden behind the outer nose that is seen on the face. There are two types of nosebleeds: anterior nosebleeds and posterior nosebleeds. Anterior nosebleeds are the most common type of bloody nose and generally involve the blood coming from a blood vessel at the front part of the nose. These bloody noses are usually easy to control. Posterior nosebleeds are less common and normally occur in the elderly. The blood comes from an artery in the back of the nose. These types of bloody noses typically require medical treatment.

Treatment

Bloody noses are fairly easy to treat. Resist the urge to tilt your head back as you will swallow the blood and possibly cough or throw it up. Instead, try these tips:

  1. Pinch the nostrils together with your thumb and index finger on the soft part of your nose.

  2. Push them forward towards your face.

  3. Hold your fingers there for 10 minutes (use a timer or have someone else keep time).2

After the bleeding has stopped, you may consider spraying with a nasal spray to help moisten the area. Refrain from blowing your nose and coughing in the hours after a bloody nose.

Prevention

If your bloody nose was caused by a more severe issue, more extreme measures may need to be taken. But if your frequent nosebleeds are caused by dry weather or allergies, the following measures can be taken to prevent further nosebleeds:

  • Gently apply Vaseline to the inside of the nose with a Q-tip to keep the nasal cavity moisturized.

  • Use a humidifier in your home (especially while you sleep).

  • Try using a nasal saline spray.

  • Don’t pick your nose or blow it forcefully.

  • If possible, avoid taking drugs that may make it harder for your blood to clot.

When to Seek Medical Care

If the bloody nose continues to bleed for more than 10 minutes, you may need to seek medical attention.  A nosebleed occurring two to three times in a month may be attributed to a chronic condition such as allergies. If you have a nosebleed more frequently than four times a week, seek medical attention to determine the source of the problem and treatment. The doctor may pack your nose with Vaseline coated gauze3  to apply pressure from the inside. If the blood is coming from a blood vessel, the doctor may choose to cauterize it to force the blood to clot.

1.       MedicineNet.com. (2015, January 27). Nosebleed. Retrieved from: http://www.medicinenet.com/bloody_nose/symptoms.htm

2.       WebMD. (2015, January 27). First Aid & Emergencies-Nosebleeds. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/nosebleeds-causes-and-treatments?page=3#1

3.       Columbia University Medical Center. (2015, January 27). Nosebleed (Epistaxis). Retrieved from: http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/student/health/pdf/E-H/Epistaxis.pdf

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