Tis the season for nose bleeds or in medical jargon, epistaxis. Here are a few thoughts on the subject. This week, Mother Nature is giving us a reprieve from the lower temperatures that cause us to run our heaters and dry out the air in our homes. That process leads to nasal irritation that can range from a small amount of blood in the tissue to all out running to the bathroom to hold pressure on the nose. In addition to the dry air, blood thinners, childhood “picking” and steroid nasal sprays can also aggravate the situation. Stopping steroid nasal sprays for a couple of days and moisturizing your nasal passageways are recommended. Humidifiers, nasal saline, a nasal saline gel and/or petroleum jelly will help moisturize your nose. All of which can be obtained at retailers such as Walgreen’s, Target or Wal-mart. A costlier fix is the whole house humidifier an HVAC company can install. If you notice that the nosebleeds always come from the same side, you may have an anatomical issue where a blood vessel is too close to the surface and easily irritated. This might warrant a trip to your ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon to consider silver nitrate cauterization, which in a recent Cochrane review achieved complete resolution in 88% of patients. For more profuse bleeding, use of a nasal decongestant like Afrin can constrict the blood vessels. Caution! Nasal decongestants can be addictive and cause rebound congestion if used longer than 2-3 days. Another cautionary note, I am always reluctant to recommend humidifiers unless patients agree to be diligent in their cleaning of the humidifier to prevent mold build up. And finally, distilled or boiled water is recommended for those who use Neti-Pots and other rinse aids. Although extremely rare, a brain-eating amoeba called Naegleria fowleri can be contracted from infected water sources. Yuck! I hope these tips help get you through the winter! Feel free to share this post, especially with other parents… and those tap water Neti-Pot users!
Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to create a doctor-patient relationship with any reader. If you need personalized medical advice, contact your primary care physician or other physician in your community.