July 30, 2014

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Heads-up on Bloody Noses

Feb. 24, 2011

By Lewis First, M.D

Parents have been quite nosy recently with lots of questions about their children getting nosebleeds during the winter. Well, the clot thickens (so to speak) so let me provide some information on this topic.

Nosebleeds are probably as common as the common cold and are usually caused by nasal passages being exposed to dry air during the winter season. Recurrent colds and allergies can also make the inside lining of the nose quite raw, cracked and crusted, allowing blood vessels to come to the surface of the nasal lining. That can lead to bleeding.

Most nosebleeds can easily be managed at home by doing the following:

Stay calm and reassure your child that the bleeding will stop.

Have your child sit up — not lie down — to reduce the blood pressure in the head and the amount of bleeding that may occur.

Blow the nose to free up any large clots that can interfere with applying pressure.

Apply direct pressure to the soft part of the nose for 10 minutes with the child sitting up and leaning forward so they are less apt to swallow the blood.

Don’t release that pressure until 10 minutes have elapsed.

It is not a good idea to re-blow the nose after this, or it will disturb the new clot that has successfully formed. A cold compress or ice pack to the nose can also help stop the bleeding.

How can you prevent nosebleeds from occurring? Humidifying the air in your home will help, as will applying Vaseline to the inside of the nose to keep the lining moist and to prevent irritation. Picking the nose will also not improve the situation, so remember to keep their fingernails short if they do pick, and remind your child they can pick their friends, but they should not pick their nose or their friend’s nose.

When should you worry about a nosebleed?

If the bleeding is occurring through both nostrils

If it continues for over fifteen minutes

If the bleeding appears to be heavy and is accompanied by dizziness or weakness

If it is the result of a fall or blow to the head

If prolonged bleeding also occurs from other areas like the gums or from a cut

If it occurs more than three or four times a week.

If this is the case, have your pediatrician examine your child’s nose and if necessary perform some additional studies.

Hopefully, tips like this will stop-up any concerns you have and prevent you from seeing red the next time you are worried about your child’s nosebleeds.

Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.

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