Winter is a tough season for the nose, as people with bleeding disorders know all too well. In large parts of the country, cold winter climates necessitate shuffling between frigid outdoor temperatures and indoor heating, a combination tailor-made to dry out the schnoz. Add to that wintertime sniffles and stuffy noses caused by cold viruses and the flu and you have the recipe for more frequent nosebleeds.
“The biggest cause of winter nosebleeds is low humidity, both in cold outdoor air and heated indoor air, which can cause the delicate membrane lining nasal passages to become dry and cracked,” notes Consumer Reports. “Then all it takes is a cough, a sneeze, a sharp fingernail or blowing your nose to rupture tiny blood vessels just below the surface.”
Here are a few suggestions for preventing nosebleeds, and tips for what to do if you get one.
Keeping nosebleeds to a minimum
To prevent nosebleeds caused by dry air you either must get more moisture into the air or more moisture into your nose.
- Use a humidifier in your bedroom to help moisturize the air and your nasal membrane while you sleep.
- Use a nasal saline spray or water-soluble gel for the inside of your nose.
- If you have a cold, wipe gently instead of clearing your nose with hard blows.
- Don’t pick your nose.
- If you’ve already had a nosebleed, avoid vigorous activity like running so you don’t trigger a recurrence. Other activities can also make the nose start bleeding again, including diving into a pool, bending over for a long period of time or eating spicy food.
What to do if you get a nosebleed
If despite your efforts to moisturize and avoid unnecessary trauma you get a nosebleed anyway, try these suggestions:
- Lean forward so blood doesn’t run down your throat. If you have blood in your mouth, don’t swallow it; spit it out.
- Gently blow your nose.
- Then pinch the soft part of your nose shut for 10 minutes. If bleeding doesn’t stop, repeat this step.
- It may help to put an ice pack or cold compress across the bridge of the nose.
Most of the time, nosebleeds can be treated at home. However, if you have a nosebleed that doesn’t respond to pressure, goes on for more than an hour or if you think you have lost too much blood, seek treatment. If you’re unsure whether or not to goto the emergency room (ER), call your hemophilia treatment center (HTC). If you have frequent nosebleeds and are chronically stuffy, bring it to the attention of your healthcare team.
More info: Download the HANDI Publication “Nosebleeds” at the NHF website.