Nosebleed - Causes

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Why causes nosebleeds?

The nose is a part of the body rich in blood vessels (vascular) and is situated in a vulnerable position as it protrudes on the face. As a result, trauma to the face can cause nasal injury and bleeding. The bleeding may be profuse, or simply a minor complication. Nosebleeds can occur spontaneously when the nasal membranes dry out and crack. This is common in dry climates, or during the winter months when the air is dry and warm from household heaters. People are more susceptible to a bloody nose if they take medications that prevent normal blood clotting (warfarin [Coumadin], aspirin, or any anti-inflammatory medication). In this situation, even a minor trauma could result in significant bleeding.

The incidence of nosebleeds is higher during the colder winter months when upper respiratory infections are more frequent, and the temperature and humidity fluctuate more dramatically. In addition, changes from a bitter cold outside environment to a warm, dry, heated home results in drying and changes in the nose which make it more susceptible to bleeding. Nosebleeds also occur in hot dry climates with low humidity, or when there is a change in the seasons. The following factors predispose people to nosebleeds:

  • Infection
  • Trauma, including self-induced by nose picking, especially in children
  • Allergic and non-allergic rhinitis
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Use of blood thinning medications
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Less common causes include tumors and inherited bleeding problems
  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy may increase the risk of nosebleeds.
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See what others are saying

Comment from: J9, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: December 30

I had terrible chest congestion and sinus, then started a severe cough attack. I threw up clear stuff and my nose bled bright red, lots. It scared me. I thought it was my lung. My nose hurt real badly after that.

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Comment from: Somill, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: January 03

I am a 75-year old woman in fairly good health. I recently had 3 episodes of nosebleed, from the right nostril only. When I got awake, I had the urge to blow my nose, and what came first was crusted blood followed by a trickle of blood from the nostril. All blood disappeared after blowing my nose a couple of times. The incidents happened about 3 weeks apart, the latest being Nov 27, 2013 (I keep a health log). I'm not alarmed, but I sure wonder what this is all about. I've been taking medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol for several years, and I've had a pacemaker just over a year.

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