Nosebleeds are fairly common, approximately 15% of people will have a nosebleed(epistaxis) at some point in their lives. During the winter season, nose bleeds are especially common, because of increased dryness. The nose is lined with delicate mucous membranes which have a rich blood supply, and winter dryness causes the membranes to dry out, crack, and start bleeding. Seasonal colds and allergies, along with frequent nose blowing, further irritate the nasal membranes and lead to increased bleeding. People with a deviated nasal septum tend to have more nose bleeds because the inside of the nose dries out more easily. Nasal sprays may cause bleeding through direct trauma of the spray tip or a side effect of the medication. Those who take medications that thin the blood, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or warfarin, are more likely to have severe nose bleeds.
The best prevention for nosebleeds is moisturization. Applying a saline gel or petroleum ointment inside the nostril, towards the middle, just before bedtime, is very effective. Using a humidifier during the winter months is also helpful. If you do use a nasal spray, direct the tip towards the side of your nose, away from the delicate nasal septal membranes.
If you do get a nose bleed, sit up(don’t lean back) and pinch your nostrils shut(at the bottom of your nose, not the bridge), and hold pressure for 5-10 minutes, or until the bleeding stops. Those who continue to get recurrent nosebleeds should see an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist to have the nose cauterized, a simple procedure performed in the office.