While occasional nosebleeds are common and generally not cause for concern, frequent nosebleeds can be frustrating and disruptive to daily life. They may also be an indication of an underlying condition.
If you suffer from frequent or chronic nosebleeds, it is best to be assessed by an ear, nose and throat doctor. At Sierra Nevada Ear, Nose & Throat, we work with patients to diagnose the cause and create a treatment plan to stop frequent nosebleeds, also known as epistaxis.
Read on to learn what causes nosebleeds, which individuals are most susceptible and when you should seek medical treatment. If you have additional questions or concerns about your nosebleeds, call and set up an appointment with the specialists at Sierra Nevada ENT.
What Causes Nosebleeds?
Here at Sierra Nevada ENT, when it comes to enjoying clear skies and amazing outdoor recreational opportunities, we think the climate in Northern Nevada can’t be beat! It turns out, however, that our region’s combination of low humidity, high altitude and need for indoor heating in the winter months is also a perfect environment for nosebleeds.
Most nosebleeds are “anterior” nosebleeds. This means they begin in the lower part of the septum, the semi-rigid wall that separates the two nostrils of the nose. The septum contains blood vessels that can be broken by a blow to the nose or the edge of a sharp fingernail. Other common causes are dry air (like that found in our area) and allergies. Sometimes, they may be the result of clotting disorders, tumors, or hemorrhagic telangiectasia (a hereditary abnormality of the blood vessels). Symptoms include bleeding from one or both nostrils.
Chronic or frequent nosebleeds tend to be “anterior.” If you experience multiple nosebleeds each week, make an appointment for evaluation by an ear, nose and throat specialist.
“Posterior” nosebleeds result from damage to the artery at the back of the nasal cavity. In this case, blood may leak into the back of the throat as well as come out of the nostrils. Common causes of posterior nosebleeds include injury and high blood pressure. Medical treatment should be sought anytime blood is leaking into the throat.
How Common Are They?
Nosebleeds are very common, and most individuals will experience at least one nosebleed in their life. Some people may be particularly prone to nosebleeds, including:
- Children between two and 10 years old
- Pregnant women
- Middle-aged and elderly adults
- Individuals with blood clotting disorders or those taking blood thinners
An occasional nosebleed is normal and generally does not require medical treatment. In fact, most of the time, you can stop a nosebleed at home by following these four simple steps:
- Remain calm and sit upright, keeping your head above your heart
- Lean forward slightly and catch the blood with a tissue or soft cloth (ignore the old advice that you should tip your head back–that can actually result in blood draining down your throat and lead to nausea and vomiting)
- Gently pinch the soft part of your nostrils closed with your thumb and forefinger for five to ten minutes while breathing through your mouth
- If it continues to bleed, repeat the previous step one to two additional times until it stops.
Seek medical treatment if:
- Your nosebleed is the result of a serious blow to the head
- You are unable to stop bleeding after 20 minutes
- The blood flow is so intense you have trouble breathing
- You suffer from frequent, chronic nosebleeds.
How to Stop Frequent Nosebleeds
Sierra Nevada Ear, Nose & Throat has been serving patients in Northern Nevada for more than 25 years. Our doctors specialize in diagnosing and treating the causes of chronic nosebleeds. Even if it is not a serious condition, we can assess what is wrong and help improve the health of your nasal cavity.
When you visit us, we will discuss a variety of factors, including the frequency, duration and severity of your nosebleeds, family history, environmental conditions, injuries, medication, and more. We will also conduct an examination of your nasal passages for clots or other possible sources of bleeding. Occasionally, we may refer patients for additional scans or blood tests.
Based on this information, our specialists at Sierra Nevada ENT will create an individualized treatment plan that outlines how to stop frequent nosebleeds.