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How to Stop a Nosebleed

Nosebleeds are common in kids. What causes them? What is the proper way to treat them? And when should you be worried?

By
Sanaz Majd, MD,
November 24, 2016
Episode #227

Page 1 of 3

Stopping a nosebleed can be daunting, but there are some tried and true tricks to help you do so quickly and without panic.

Last week, I was abruptly awakened  to the most petrifying shrieks that no parent ever wants to hear, especially in the middle of the night. One of my identical twin preschool-aged girls was screeching in terror. Terrifying enough to trigger my most powerful fight or flight response and push it into full gear, with my heart pumping fast and furious, nearly beating out of my chest. 

Was there an intruder in the home? And then I remembered that we thankfully have a fully engaged surveillance and alarm system fit for the Pentagon. Did my girls fall off the bed and sustain a fracture of some sort? Are they injured in some way? The worst parental thoughts were running through my mind.

I instantaneously sprinted out of bed ready to take on anything in my way. Within seconds, I had invaded their room to find one of my girls dripping in a gruesome pool of blood. How did this happen? Before panicking, I realized … the blood was dribbling from her nose.

Yes, she had a nosebleed.

I felt an immediate sigh of relief. As a physician, I fully realize that nosebleeds can be a rather frightening sight—for both the parent and the child. But I also know they are not life-threatening. Certainly nothing to deserve terrifying shrieks at 2 in the morning. But to a 4-year-old, it can undeniably traumatic.

Anatomy of a Nose

The inner lining of our nasal passages are termed the “nasal mucosa.” The lining, not unlike the lining of our other orifices (mouth, rectum, labia, etc.), is smooth and holds an underlying layer of blood vessels in its superficial layers. This surface requires moisture, and if lacking, these blood vessels are more easily palpable and irritated, and can therefore bleed.

The front, lower portion of our nasal passages, called the “anterior” segment, is by far the most common site of bleeding. This is the region that is closest in proximity to the air in our environment, and the region that is most easily accessible. Therefore, it tends to mimic the surrounding air—if you’re in the desert, it will quickly turn dry. If there’s humidity, it will absorb the moisture.

The upper/deeper portion of the nasal passages is termed the “posterior” segment, and nose bleeds from this region are much less common (especially in kids). Albeit, they are more concerning. Bleeding from the posterior region can cause severe bleeding, deeming it a more urgent situation.

What Causes a Nose Bleed?

Now that you know a little about the anatomy of the nose, you may be wondering what can cause it to bleed?

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