Nosebleeds (epistaxis) are a common problem. Most are merely a nuisance and are treated at home, while a small minority require prompt medical attention for repeated bleeding or life threatening episodes. The nose acts to warm, filter, and humidify the air we breathe and requires a large blood supply to do this. Nosebleeds are more common in winter because of low humidity and dry heat, but may also be year round in our dry Utah climate.
Hay fever, nasal oxygen use, nose blowing, trauma (i.e. nose picking), and environmental irritants (i.e. tobacco smoke, chemicals), and cocaine abuse are common risk factors. These problems may dry the nose, cause crusting or nasal obstruction and lead to the onset of nasal bleeding. Bleeding may be more serious in the elderly, people with high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), bleeding disorders (i.e. hemophilia), or those using blood thinners like Coumadin, Plavix, and aspirin.
Most nosebleeds occur within the front part of the nose and can be controlled and prevented at home. If you have an active nosebleed or repeat bleeding, try this initially:
Further medical treatment may require cautery and nasal packing. Packing may require removal or may be absorbable and dissolve over time. Antibiotics are given to prevent infection from the packing. Underlying illnesses like high blood pressure or bleeding disorders may need attention. Frequently a hospital admission is needed for safe control and treatment of major nosebleeds.
Prevention of future nosebleeds requires moisturizing the nose and controlling the underlying risk factors. The following may be recommended by your physician:
Remember to follow additional instructions given to your by your doctor and attend follow up appointments as scheduled. It is important to adhere to these guidelines and instructions to best control your nosebleeds and prevent them in the future.