Today’s guest columnist is Dr. Adam Giddings, a second-year resident in Family Practice at the LSU-University Health Center program here in Lafayette.
Seeing your child with a nosebleed can be a very traumatic image. While it may appear that he or she is losing a gallon of bright red blood, a nosebleed is often harmless and easily controlled.
Nosebleeds may occur periodically in your child’s life. They can happen at any age, but are most common in children ages 2-10. After reading this article you should be confident in your ability to handle nosebleeds at home and know the warning signs to see a doctor.
Cause of Nosebleeds
There are several possibilities why your child has a nosebleed. Here are the most common causes:
-Dry Climate: When your child is exposed to dry air, whether indoors or outdoors, this causes the inside of the nose to dry out. The dry air leads to cracking in the nose, and those cracks can go through a blood vessel and cause a bleed.
-Common Cold & Allergies: If your child has a cold, the lining of the nose may get irritated and bleed, especially after repeat blowing of the nose. If your child has allergies and is using antihistamines or decongestants to control symptoms, these may further dry the nose and lead to bleeding.
-Nose Injury: Another common reason for a nosebleed are injuries. A blow to the nose may cause bleeding; however, this usually isn’t a concern as long as the bleeding stops in 10 minutes.
Treatment of Nosebleeds
Although it may initially be scary for both you and the child, there is no need to panic. Follow these tips for stopping a nosebleed.
-Use soft tissues or a damp cloth to catch the blood. Do not let your child blow their nose, as it may cause more bleeding.
-Have your child sit up and lean forward. Sitting forward will help prevent any gagging on blood going from the back of the nose to the throat. Myth buster: children do not choke to death on dried blood in the throat. Gagging on blood and nose bleeds during sleep are no fun, but not life-threatening.
-Pinch the nostrils closed just below the bony center to stop bleeding. With steady but gentle pressure, the bleeding should stop in 5 to 10 minutes. You don’t have to pinch so hard it hurts. Steady pressure means don’t continually let go and check if the bleeding is stopped. Keep the pinch on for the whole 5 minutes, without interruption!
-To prevent re-bleeding, do not allow any nose picking or blowing for several hours after.
When to seek Medical Attention
-If bleeding continues after a third or fourth attempt to stop it, you may want to see a doctor. Life-threatening bleeding almost never happens, but no one wants to walk around with a bleeding nose either.
-See a doctor if your child starts to feel dizzy or light-headed, has a fast heartbeat, is coughing up or vomiting blood, or has a fever.
-If your child has nosebleeds frequently- more than once per month- or has been having them for years, see your doctor. Your child may have a raw spot that just won’t heal, and need an Ears/Nose/Throat specialist to cauterize that bad patch. Your kid may also need blood tests to be sure he does not have a rare disorder with making blood clots, like hemophilia.
Although it may be hard to always prevent a nosebleed, below are some simple steps to insure your child doesn’t have them a lot.
-When your child is blowing her nose, make sure she is blowing gently.
-Teach you child to keep the mouth open when sneezing.
-Like we said above, dry air makes bleeding easier. Air-conditioning dries the air, and the colder it is, the drier. Turn your A/C more towards 75 degrees, rather than below 70. Cold winter air is drying, indoors and out, especially at night. A vaporizer or humidifier at your kid’s bedside can provide moisture to keep the inside of the nose from cracking and bleeding. A lubricant or saline drops may also be helpful.
Remember, it is important to stay calm, as most nosebleeds can be managed at home with the simple steps above. An occasional nose bleed is not worrisome, and there’s no need to panic. Now you know what to do!