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Almost everyone has nosebleeds from time to time. The blood vessels in the nose are near the surface, so even a slight injury can cause a nosebleed. They occur more often in the winter, when air is drier. Most nosebleeds can be stopped with self-care, but occasionally, they can lead to excessive blood loss.
Most nosebleeds are associated with dry, fragile nasal mucosa, a minor injury to the nose, colds or allergies. Other causes include violent sneezing, blowing the nose too forcefully or a foreign object in the nose. Nosebleeds are a common side effect of isotretinoin (Accutane), a potent medication for acne.
If you have a nosebleed, follow these steps:
Gently blow nose once to remove large clots that may interfere with applying pressure. Don't continue blowing your nose.
Apply continuous pressure to nose for 15 minutes without checking to see if the bleeding has stopped. Pinch the nostrils below the bony part of the nose and press firmly toward the face.
Sit up with head bent forward slightly and breathe through the mouth.
Do not swallow blood, because it can cause nausea. Spit it out through your mouth.
Apply ice over the middle of your face to constrict blood vessels and reduce bleeding.
Sit quietly for 15 to 30 minutes. Do not attempt to clean or put anything in your nostrils.
If the nosebleed was protracted or you had trouble getting it stopped, elevate your head when resting or sleeping for the next few days.
Discontinue use of aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for three days unless prescribed.
Avoid drinking alcohol and straining, bending or lifting for the next few days.
Avoid picking your nose or blowing it vigorously.
Use a humidifier to increase humidity in your home during the winter.
Limit use of aspirin, NSAIDs or medicated nasal sprays to short term only, unless prescribed by your doctor.
Gently apply a thin layer of bacitracin or petroleum jelly just inside the nostrils one to two times a day to relieve dryness and irritation.
Put two to three drops of warm saltwater in each nostril before gently blowing a stuffy nose. Use an over-the-counter brand such as Ocean or Salinex or make a homemade solution by dissolving 1/4 teaspoon salt in one cup of water.
05-18-07 Montreal Children's Hospital - SW
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