A bloody nose can happen anytime. Nosebleeds tend to be more common in the cold dry months or after a trauma. Ninety percent of nose bleeds occur in the front of the nose — near the nostril. This is the area where all the blood vessels meet. It is also the area that is first exposed to the outside environment. The blood vessels here are right under the lining of the nose. If the lining gets dried out or scratched, it may expose the vessels and lead to bleeding.
The best way to help stop a nose bleed is to pinch the nostrils totally closed and hold your chin to your chest. Also keep your head elevated above your heart (do not lie down). An over-the-counter spray, such as Afrin or Neo-Synephrine, can help constrict the vessels and make it easier to stop nosebleeds. However, you should never use such decongestant sprays regularly in an effort to ward off nose bleeds. It is also important not to stick anything in the nose — like tissue. At some point, you have to remove the tissue and this may in turn pull off the scab and cause the bleeding to resume.
If nosebleeds become frequent or severe, you should see a doctor at Midwest ENT. Nosebleeds which are mild to moderate can often be treated in our office using a chemical can be applied to help stop the bleeding. Severe nose bleeds may require nasal packing. Many of these nasal packs are dissolvable, although some will need to be taken out after 3-5 days. Nosebleeds that do not resolve with these methods may require additional procedures performed in an operating room or by an interventional radiologist.
A few simple things should be done to help prevent future nose bleeds. Keeping the lining of your nose moist is probably the most important. Over-the-counter saline sprays or gels can be used several times a day. Using a humidifier in the bedroom or on your furnace can also be of benefit.
In some cases better control of blood pressure or blood thinners will be necessary. Coordination between your primary care doctor and one of the doctors at Midwest ENT is key.
Nosebleeds are most often not going to be life threatening. However, any significant bleeding that occurs outside of normal office hours will require a trip to an emergency room.