Not Another Nosebleed!

Photo by purpleslog via Flickr

You are nervous because you are about to make a speech in front of hundreds of people.  You have been waiting for this moment for years.  Since you are congested, you blow your nose vigorously to clear it before you head up to the podium.  Unfortunately, in your desire to clear your nose completely, you blow too hard and your nose starts bleeding.

Frantic, you grab some more tissues and try to remember the right way to stop the bleeding.  Are you supposed to tilt your head back or forward?  You tilt your head forward as you expel an exasperated sigh and start praying for the bleeding to stop.  It has to!  You can’t go on stage with a piece of tissue stuffed up your nose!  And you can’t have blood dripping on this shirt either. It’s white, for goodness’ sake!  “This is not your day,” you think.  If only you were wearing one of your dark shirts.  At least those wouldn’t show blood so easily.

What causes nosebleeds?
Nosebleeds are a very common affliction that occurs more often in children than adults.  Usually, they are not life threatening, but they can cause considerable distress and discomfort.

Some common causes of nosebleeds are the trauma from a blow to your nose, blowing your nose too hard or picking your nose (you wouldn’t do that, of course).  Inflammation from a cold, allergy or sinusitis or the use of certain medications, such as blood thinning drugs, can also cause a bloody nose.

The most common site of bleeding is the nose partition, also called the septum.  The majority of those occur in the front of the nasal septum.  Often it is because the air going in and out of the nose dries and irritates the fragile, thin membranes lining the inside of the nose, making them crack more easily. Once they crack, it doesn’t take much to damage the delicate blood vessels that lie just beneath these membranes.  Something as simple as blowing, picking or rubbing too hard can set off a nose bleed.  That is why nosebleeds often occur in places of low humidity, such as in the dry air of wintertime, in an airplane cabin or in a desert climate.

While less common, people past middle age sometimes develop nosebleeds deeper in the nose, which may be harder to stop.  These nosebleeds may require medical attention if they do not cease within a few minutes.

How do you stop a nosebleed?
Do you remember being told to pinch your nose and tilt your head backwards?  Well, that is not a good idea unless you want to have blood running down your throat.  The blood can make you cough, choke or in the case of a very bad nosebleed, vomit.

Luckily, most nosebleeds stop spontaneously, but here are three easy steps you can take to stop a nosebleed even quicker.

  1. Sit or stand up and tilt your head forward: Sitting or standing upright will use gravity to lower the blood pressure to your nose, so that less bleeding will occur.  Tilting your head forward will keep the blood from running down your throat.
  2. Pinch your nose: Use your thumb and index finger to pinch your nostrils to your septum for 5-10 minutes.  The pressure will help to stop the bleeding.  Don’t check to see if the bleeding has stopped until the 5-10 minutes are up or else it will keep bleeding.  And make sure to breathe through your mouth.  You do need to breathe, after all.
  3. After the bleeding episode: To prevent a repeat nosebleed, don’t blow your nose too hard or too often, don’t bend over for several hours (keep your head higher then your heart) and definitely don’t pick your nose (not that you would, of course).

If your bleeding doesn’t stop after 20 minutes or if the nosebleed is the result of a bad accident, seek medical attention immediately.

The bottom line:
Don’t let a nosebleed ruin your day.  It can be stopped quickly with the measures mentioned above.  And if you have a history of nosebleeds it may be the result of blowing too hard or repeated rubbing and picking (some people do this, I guess), which can all remedied by changing your habits.  So be delicate with your nose in the future and now that your nose has stopped bleeding, good luck with that speech!

Comments (4)

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  1. Maria Isabel says:

    I have noticed that you get more nose bleeds whenever the climate where you are is dry.

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  3. Sharron says:

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