More than 60% of people will experience a nosebleed in their lifetime. While most nosebleeds are harmless, and most frequently caused by dry air, they have the potential to cause serious complications. Here are the red flags to watch for if you develop a nosebleed.
It happens frequently.
While infrequent nosebleeds are usually harmless, recurrent nosebleeds can indicate a serious underlying problem, including high blood pressure, a blood clotting disorder, or in more serious cases, cancer. It’s important to seek medical attention if you develop recurrent nosebleeds.
You have other signs of unexplained bleeding.
If, in addition to a nosebleed, you develop unexplained bruises or if your gums bleed more when you brush your teeth or if your period is heavier than usual, it’s important to seek medical attention. Nosebleeds with these other symptoms can indicate that you have a potentially serious deficiency in the components that cause your blood to clot.
It drips down the back of your throat.
There are two categories of nosebleeds: anterior and posterior. Anterior nosebleeds cause blood to trickle out of the front of your nose. Posterior nosebleeds are more serious and cause blood to leak down the back of your throat. If you have posterior bleeding, it’s important to seek medical attention, since posterior bleeds can cause significant blood loss if they’re not treated appropriately.
You feel lightheaded, dizzy, or faint.
Since nosebleeds have the potential to cause significant blood loss, it’s important to watch for symptoms of anemia, including lightheadedness, dizziness, a fast heart rate, or feeling faint. Statistics about anemia will surprise you as it's the most common blood disorder. Ensure you are sitting down and leaning forward during a nosebleed and taking the proper steps to stop the bleeding.
You can’t get it to stop.
Most nosebleeds stop within 15-20 minutes of onset. Pinching the bridge of your nose, leaning forward, and applying ice to the bridge of your nose can help a nosebleed stop faster. However, if you’re not able to get your nosebleed stop with these measures, it’s important to seek prompt medical attention to prevent potentially serious complications from uncontrolled bleeding.
At GoHealth Urgent Care, we’re here 7 days a week to care for nosebleeds and most non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries.
Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant