The Causes and Concerns of Your Child's Nosebleed
Doc Smitty answers questions about your child's bloody nose
Nosebleeds are very common in children 2-10 years of age. Studies suggest that 30-50% of children in this age group have had at least one nosebleed.
We’ve gotten a lot of requests to write a post about nosebleeds so I thought I would cover some of the basics. As we’re going along remember this: While scary and annoying, most nosebleeds don't point toward anything concerning.
What causes nosebleeds?
If you are like me, nosebleeds will never be the same after Eleven and Stranger Things. But don't get things upside down on the actual cause of your child's bloody nose.
The nose has tons of blood vessels that go to it...and the tissue inside the nose is very fragile and can easily crack and bleed.
Anything that causes the tissue to be dry can lead to increased risk for nosebleeds, especially dry and very cool or warm air (winter and summer). Conditions which lead to nasal inflammation (especially nasal allergies) can also be a factor.
Ultimately, the most common trigger to a bleeding is nose picking but extreme heat, activity and stress can also be a factor. Yes, your kids pick their nose. Every kid picks their nose. I promise. Other common triggers are blowing and suctioning.
There are a few more unusual causes of nosebleeds that should be considered if the nose bleeds are consistent over time:
- Structural problems - An abnormal bump or growth can be more prone to injury.
- Bleeding problems - Children who have problems with blood clotting can be more prone nosebleeds.
- Object stuck in the nose - Sometimes kids put stuff in their nose. Symptoms are usually one sided bleeding and a foul smell from the nostril.
How do you stop a nosebleed?
Pinch it. Pack it. Head up. Head down. What is the right thing to do?
There's no reason to tilt the head back or to lie down. This only increases the amount of blood that is traveling down the back of the throat and can lead to coughing or vomiting blood later.
- Have your child sit or stand and slightly lean forward and breathe through their mouth.
- Firmly pinch your child nose in the soft part just below the bony ridge.
- Hold pressure at that location for 10 minutes. Don't check. Seriously, if you're reading this now, don't check.
- If the bleeding does not stop, repeat again for 10 minutes.
- If the bleeding does not stop, continue holding pressure but get ready to head in to be checked out by a doctor.
When should you be concerned about nosebleeds?
It can be difficult to know what is normal and what is concerning with nosebleeds.
Here are some indications that you should probably see your doctor:
- An individual nosebleed that doesn't resolve after two attempts to control bleeding for 10 minutes.
- Nosebleeds are happening more than 2-3 times per week or are significantly increasing in frequency.
- There are other associated symptoms such as bruising or easy bleeding, fever, weight loss or rash.
- Nosebleeds are consistently occurring from one nostril.
- You should always seek care sooner if your child has an underlying medical condition.
How can I prevent nosebleeds?
In children who have frequent nosebleeds, there are some steps that you can take to help prevent them.
- Keep your child's nails clipped.
- Run the humidifier in the room with your child overnight.
- Apply nasal saline spray to the nose a few times per day. If this doesn't seem to be enough, saline gels or vaseline may also be an option but talk with your doctor.
- Seek medical care for underlying conditions, especially allergies and be consistent with your allergy regimen.
As I was writing this, I received a bunch of emails I plan to answer in a followup, but for now I'm going back to watching Stranger Things.
Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.
Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr. Smith is an experienced keynote speaker for a variety of topics including pediatric/parenting topics, healthcare social media and physician leadership. If you are interested in having Dr. Smith present to your conference or meeting, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's checkupnewsroom.com. He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click to learn more. To make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.