What to Do When Your Child Has a Nosebleed
by Rick Alan
When the air gets cold and dry, like winter time, it makes nosebleeds more likely. Children are the most susceptible. Fortunately there are easy tips for handling and even preventing your children's nosebleeds.
What Causes Nosebleeds?
In most cases, a nosebleed occurs because the tiny vessels inside the nose have broken. This type of nosebleed, called an anterior nosebleed, occurs because the blood flows out of the front (or anterior) part of the nose.
These types of nosebleeds are usually not serious and generally stop by themselves or require only simple steps to stop the bleeding; they rarely require medical attention. Anterior nosebleeds are almost always a result of an irritation inside the nose caused by several factors, including:
Posterior nosebleeds, on the other hand, are much less common and occur when the blood flow comes from deep inside the nasal cavity and moves down the back (or posterior) of the mouth and throat. They are usually a sign of a more serious underlying medical condition, such as high blood pressure, hemophilia, or other bleeding disorders or a nose tumor. Blood-thinning medicines can also cause posterior nosebleeds.
Who Is Susceptible?
Children and teenagers are most susceptible to anterior nosebleeds, but adults can experience them as well.
What Should You Do?
If your child has a nosebleed that does not stop quickly by itself, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you take the following steps:
The AAP also notes that while most nosebleeds are benign, a child with severe or recurrent bleeding, or bleeding from both nostrils, should be evaluated by a pediatrician and, if necessary, an ear-nose-throat specialist.
Once the bleeding has stopped, have the child keep his head elevated and avoid heavy exertion and nose-blowing for at least an hour.
There are several steps you can take to prevent your child from getting anterior nosebleeds, including:
American Academy of Otolaryngology
American Academy of Pediatrics
Canadian Family Physician
Chronic nosebleeds: what to do. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children.org website. Available at: http://www.healthy.... Updated January 9, 2012. Accessed June 27, 2012.
Nosebleed. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated March 26, 2012. Accessed July 11, 2012.
Nosebleeds. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor.org website. Available at: http://familydocto.... Updated December 2010. Accessed June 27, 2012.
RM Kleigman, RE Behrman, HB Jenson, BF Stanton, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics . 18th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders; 2007.
Last reviewed June 2012 by Brian Randall, MD