When to Worry About Nosebleeds

When to Worry About Nosebleeds

Due to the commonality of their occurrence, as well as the highly visual and distinctive symptoms, references to nosebleeds are peppered throughout the English lexicon.  Nosebleeds can be a metaphor for cheap seats, fast speeds or high levels of excitement. Learn when to worry about nosebleeds.

 Joan: We’re thinking about Riverdale. It’s near Columbia Press and Greg wants a yard.
Jane: I don’t know. I get a nosebleed anywhere above 86th Street.
– Quote from Mad Men  The medical term for nosebleeds is epistaxis. Anyone can get a nosebleed, but they most commonly occur in the following groups:

  • Young children
  • The elderly
  • Pregnant women
  • People who regularly take aspirin or blood thinning medications
  • People with blood disorders

Most nosebleeds begin in the lower part of the septum, the semi-rigid wall that separates the two nostrils of the nose.  This is referred to as an anterior nosebleed.  The inside of your nose is full of tiny blood vessels which can bleed if they’re disturbed by a minor injury such as when picking or blowing your nose.  There are a number of potential causes for anterior nosebleeds, such as: deviated septum, high altitude, nasal allergies, cold or flu, sinusitis, liver disease or use of illegal drugs.

The first step to treating an anterior nosebleed is quite simple: stop the bleeding.  You can usually stop a nosebleed yourself by pinching your nose just above your nostrils for 10 minutes.  Sitting upright, leaning forward and breathing through your mouth will drain blood down your nose instead of down the back of your throat.  If bleeding persists after 20 minutes, seek medical attention.

A few nosebleeds stem from large vessels in the back of the throat, and are referred to as posterior nosebleeds.  Posterior nosebleeds can occur as a result of facial injury, but are also common among elderly patients, usually as a result of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, daily aspirin use or bleeding disorders. When treating a nosebleed, it is important to make the distinction between anterior and posterior, since posterior nosebleeds are more serious and almost always require a physician’s care.

To prevent and know when to worry about nosebleeds, try applying a lubricating ointment, such as petroleum jelly, to the inside of your nostrils. Use a humidifier if you will be in a dry environment. If you’re experiencing frequent nosebleeds, don’t blame the cheap seats, give our office a call.

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The Staff and Doctors of The New York Otolaryngology Group