Nosebleeds are, sadly, a part of being a fully functioning human being. Whether it’s because you bumped your nozzle playing basketball two weeks ago, or you picked your nostrils one too many times as a kid, nosebleeds can occur at any age, and at any time.
In children, this is expected. In adults, this is embarrassing. Especially if you get them on the reg. And in board meetings, or on first dates. But according to ENT surgeon, Dr William Mooney, nose bleeds, or epistaxis, as they’re known in the medical profession, can be avoided altogether by identifying the underlying problem that may be causing them.
“Occasional epistaxis is common, but if it’s frequent or protracted, you need to see an ENT surgeon.”
However, before you make the decision to go under the knife, here are three of the most common causes of nosebleeds in adults, and a few tips on how to avoid them.
Any kind of internal or external trauma to the face or nose can lead to nosebleeds. External trauma implies a harsh hit to the nose, whether you’ve run into a wall or suffered an impact to the face. Internal trauma can be exposure to warm, dry air for long periods of time, sinus infections, or too much nose picking.
So make sure you keep your fingers out of your nose, and if your sinuses are playing up, see your GP. If the symptoms are persistent, they can prescribe you with a combination of medication (antibiotics, decongestants, and allergy medicines), and self-care (humidifiers, nasal saline solution, and drinking lots of fluids).
And if you have ever experienced an external trauma such as a car accident or knock to the head, ask for a refferal to an ENT, who’ll be able to check and see if a deviated septum is causing your recurrent nose bleeds, and may advise surgery to correct it.
Blood thinning medications
“These can be drugs taken specifically to thin, like aspirin, or drugs that have a blood thinning side effect, like Nurofen, Naprogesic or even fish oil and other supplements,” explains Mooney.
Other medications with this effect are warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel bisulfate (Plavix), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs.
If you’re taking any of these medications and are experiencing regular nosebleeds, speak to your GP about whether there is an alternative treatment that’s right for you. Your doctor may prescribe you with another medication, or you may have to weigh up whether changing medications is worth it for the prevention of nosebleeds.
High blood pressure
This is a less common cause than trauma or blood thinners, but one you should definitely pay attention to. If you’re getting chronic nosebleeds and trauma, blood thinners, or sinusitis doesn’t explain them, it may be indicative of high blood pressure.
The insidious nature of high blood pressure or hypertension is such that it doesn’t present any symptoms in the more benign stages. Factors that contribute to it include high salt intake and age.
If you frequently suffer from a bloody nose and one or more of these symptoms, see your GP immediately. They will measure your blood pressure and may advise a combination of medication and lifestyle changes, depending on the results.
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