Have you ever experienced a nosebleed at an awkward or unexpected time? Has your nose suddenly started bleeding in front of other people and you had no idea how to stop it? Well, if that has ever happened to you, you’re definitely not alone. You don’t need to get hit in the face for your nose to gush blood. In today’s article, we will describe some of the other causes of nosebleeds, as well as give you several tips on how to deal with one if it occurs. At the end, you will find out if a nosebleed can be dangerous.
What are the common causes of a nosebleed?
There are multiple reasons for a nosebleed and not only because the nose’s location makes it prone to injury. Below we enumerate a few of the culprits to be aware of, which may enable you to avoid experiencing a nosebleed in the future.
Dry nasal passages
One of the most common causes of nosebleeds are dry nasal passages. You may not realize it, but things that you use every day, such as air conditioning or central heating, may negatively impact the inside of your nose by drying it out. As a result, the dry nasal tissues crack; once you blow your nose (or pick it!), the most likely result is some blood. That’s why it’s important to keep the nose lining moist, especially during cold months when the air is very dry, or when you’re in a dusty area. At our Spring Hill walk in clinic, we recommend our patients use nasal sprays or turn on a humidifier to prevent their nasal passages from drying out; another option is drinking a lot of fluids to moist the body from the inside.1
An allergy is your immune system’s reaction to an irritant. It may result in swollen, irritated and inflamed nasal passages. An itchy nose may prompt you to pick it, rub it or blow it to get relief. All these actions may lead to the breaking and tearing of the already dried-out nasal membranes and end up in a nosebleed. What can you do when you have an unbearable nose itch during allergy season? Try pinching the soft part of your nose, right above the nostrils, with your index finger and your thumb, sit straight up, and tilt your head a bit forward. Stay in this position for at least 5-10 minutes. Another solution to consider is using an ice pack over the nose and cheekbones or using saline nasal sprays.
Trauma to the nose
This cause is probably the most obvious. A blow to the face may result in a nosebleed because the nose is very rich in blood vessels; when they get damaged by a facial trauma, it’s very likely that bleeding will occur. Among the sports where nosebleeds appear most commonly are soccer, football, baseball, and basketball. However, you don’t have to play any of them to get hit in the face. At our Spring Hill walk in clinic, we always advise seeking medical help whenever the swelling and bruising of the nose are significant as well as when the bleeding doesn’t stop. It may mean that the nose is broken.
Sinusitis / Decongestants
Sinusitis is a respiratory infection where certain types of bacteria, viruses, allergens, or air pollution affect the sinus cavity and cause inflammation. Inflamed sinuses swell and are no longer able to properly drain mucus; mucus buildup and nasal congestion lead to a blocked and stuffy nose. Many people decide to treat it with decongestants, but the problem is that those medications are meant to dry out the nasal lining, which make it vulnerable to nosebleeds. If you suffer from sinusitis, try steam inhalers or aromatherapy to get rid of excessive mucus first before you decide to try decongestants. They might turn out to be more effective and safer for your nose than medicine.
Sometimes frequent nose bleeding isn’t caused by any external factor; they simply run in the family. This condition is called hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. It occurs when certain blood vessels don’t develop properly and are very fragile, which makes them vulnerable to bursting and bleeding easily.2 If you experience nosebleeds on a regular basis, you should check with your physician and find out if you suffer from HHT. If that’s the case, you will receive appropriate treatment.
Can a nosebleed be dangerous?
At our Spring Hill walk in clinic, we’re sometimes asked whether a nosebleed can be dangerous. There is no single answer to this question as every nosebleed is different. Most of them aren’t dangerous and rather easy to stop. Nevertheless, determining whether a nosebleed is serious or not greatly depends on its location. Is it from the front (anterior) or from the back (posterior) of your nose? That small difference is crucial. The anterior cases aren’t severe and can be managed by sitting upright and applying ice, whereas posterior nosebleeds are more complicated as the blood is not dripping but flowing down the back of the throat, regardless of the person’s position.2 This type may cause excessive swallowing and spitting out blood, and can affect breathing. For this reason, if you get a posterior nosebleed, you should immediately go to the nearest urgent care, where you will be taken care of. However, keep in mind that if you’re on blood thinners, there is a high likelihood that you will not be able to stop the bleeding no matter the location; in such cases, a visit to a doctor’s office is necessary .
When to see a physician?
As mentioned above, nosebleeds are usually easy to stop on your own. However, certain cases may require medical intervention. At our Spring Hill walk in Clinic, we recommend seeking medical care when the nosebleed interferes with your breathing, lasts for over 20 minutes even if you apply compression, or when there’s more blood than typical for a nosebleed. Don’t ever drive yourself to the doctor; always ask a friend or family member to take you. Bear in mind that if you have frequent nosebleeds, regardless of whether or not you can stop them, you should talk to your physician about them to identify and treat the cause. If you live in the Spring Hill area, we encourage you to pay us a visit and discuss your case. We are open seven days per week with no appointment necessary. Simply show up, and we will take care of you.
To learn about other services that we provide, visit our website.