Daryl frowned as he noted the bright red blood on his handkerchief. It was the second time in a week that he’d experienced a nosebleed. He glanced at the field, worried about what would happen if he couldn’t stop the bleeding while his son was playing in the soccer match.
A few days later, the doctor offered several possible explanations of why a man in his thirties without a history of nosebleeds should suffer two so close together. The most likely culprits were the aspirin Daryl had started taking every day and the cool, dry autumn air.
While nosebleeds occur a lot more often than most people realize, they are seldom serious medical problems. According to MedlinePlus, there are more than a dozen possible causes.
The perfect setting for a nosebleed is an environment in which the lining of the nose becomes very dry. This occurs when humidity is low and when an individual suffers from allergies. Colds and sinusitis are also culprits.
Winter is a prime time for developing nosebleeds. Furnaces push hot, dry air into the homes and office buildings, and viruses are rampant. Sometimes a physical imperfection such as a deviated septum or a nasal blockage can trigger an episode. Drugs such as aspirin or Coumadin can cause nosebleeds as well as aggravate them.
Individuals who blow their noses very hard or have a habit of inserting their fingers inside their nostrils are at increased risk for nosebleeds. Repeated sneezing and inhaling either very cold or very dry air are prime causes.
Sometimes the cause of a nosebleed is something actually stuck in the nose or an injury like a broken nose. Surgery performed on the nose or other parts of the face can be a trigger.
For some individuals, faulty pressure differences involving the ears might cause the nose to bleed. Chemical irritants, suffering from allergic rhinitis, and experiencing an upper respiratory infection all make an individual prone to an incident.
Doctors occasionally see patients whose noses bleed because of bleeding disorders such as hemophilia or due to high blood pressure. Individuals who chronically experience the problem might be suffering from a condition known as hereditary hemorrhagic telanglectasia, also known as HHT, or a tumor located in the nose or sinus cavities.
Several home care measures can help prevent nosebleeds. Lowering the temperature in the home and using a vaporizer to push humidity into the air can reduce the frequency of the problem. Many individuals also find that using a nasal saline spray and water-soluble jelly can ward off nosebleeds.
Children who suffer repeated nosebleeds that occur more and more frequently should see a doctor. It’s important for children or adults to get emergency care if bleeding doesn’t stop after 20 minutes. Other indicators for emergency care include a head injury or the possibility of a broken nose.
When a family doctor or pediatrician can’t pinpoint the cause of repeated nosebleeds, he or she probably will refer the patient to an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT). For single episodes that don’t appear to require emergency care, the best bit is to take a seat, then squeeze the soft portion of the nose gently.
To avoid swallowing any blood, the individual should lean forward and use mouth breathing. Pressure should be maintained for at least 10 minutes before trying to determine if the bleeding has stopped. Sometimes nosebleeds end after applying cold compresses on top of the bridge of the nose.