Recognising the Causes of Excessive Nose Bleeds

Whilst nose bleeds are more common than you might think, and most can be treated at home, there are sometimes other underlying causes that may require you to seek medical attention, especially if you suffer from excessive nose bleeds.

A nose bleed, or an epistaxis as it is known in the medical profession, is a common occurrence in adults and children alike, and, more often than not, is nothing to worry about. These common nose bleeds are called anterior nose bleeds. An anterior nose bleed occurs when the tiny blood vessels that line the inside of the nose are disturbed. This is usually the result of a minor blow to the nose or head which causes a rupture to the vessels. It can also be caused by picking or over-zealous blowing. If the mucus membrane, the moist lining of the nose, becomes dry due to cold weather, air conditioning, central heating, or infection, it can sometimes become inflamed and cracked, causing it to bleed. Usually, none of these will cause excessive nose bleeds and your body's natural coagulants, or blood clotting agents, will stop the flow of blood by itself. However, if you do find yourself experiencing excessive nose bleeds, say more than once a week, you should seek medical advice.

Excessive nose bleeds

  • Posterior nose bleeds are heavier and more prolonged than anterior nose bleeds. The bleeding comes from the arteries that supply the blood to your nostrils, higher up inside your head. These kinds of nose bleeds can be caused by a more serious blow to the head and should always be checked by a professional. However, although undoubtedly more distressing, the good news is they are usually the result of something easily rectifiable. Certain medicines, including aspirin and those for arthritis can trigger excessive nose bleeds. Ask your doctor if you think you may be taking such medication. High blood pressure, a diet high in fat, and low calcium levels can also contribute to excessive nose bleeds. Again, ask your doctor or dietitian for advice about changing your diet.

More serious causes

  • Very rarely, prolonged and excessive nose bleeds can be the symptom of something more serious. One of these might be a blood clotting disorder, such as haemophilia, an inherited disorder affecting the blood's ability to naturally clot, or von Willebrand's disease, which causes excessive bruising and bleeding. Both of these can be treated with medication but will need close attention from a professional. Another possibility, though rather more unlikely, is leukemia, cancer of the blood cells. This may result in excessive nose bleeds but the chances are you will have noticed other symptoms first. Whatever you think the cause, it is important to have excessive nose bleeds checked out properly.