Unpredictable and always inconvenient, nose bleeds can sometimes result in serious blood loss. Generally, most episodes are caused from drying out of the nasal mucosa (lining of the nasal cavity). Nose bleeds usually occur in clusters, and are worsened by blood thinning medicines (including aspirin) and high blood pressure.
Nose Bleed Causes
Dry nasal passages are the number one cause of nose bleeds. When the membranes lining the nasal passages dry, their blood vessels can burst, causing a nosebleed. This occurs most often in winter, when we are exposed to cold, dry air. Other factors that contribute to nosebleeds include colds, allergies, sinus infections, medications, nasal sprays, inserting objects into the nose, blowing the nose too hard, and injury or trauma.
Nose bleeds are classified as either anterior (coming from the front of the nose, often confined to bleeding in one nostril) and posterior (originating in the back of the nose). The majority of nose bleeds are anterior, and easily treatable. Lean forward slightly, pinch your nostrils together, and hold that position until the bleeding stops (usually 5-10 minutes). Posterior nosebleeds are rare, and considered a medical emergency. Blood can flow down the back of the mouth and throat and lead to serious complications. This type of nose bleed is seen most often in elderly people, patients with high blood pressure, and accident or trauma victims.
Most nosebleeds will resolve with preventative measures and time. Rarely, nosebleeds can be the first signs of a cancer in the nasal cavity. Any recurrent nosebleeds should be evaluated by a physician to rule out any serious cause of the bleeding as well as to prevent recurrence. Sometimes, an in-office cauterization of the offending blood vessels can stop the recurrent nosebleeds.