Recurrent nosebleeds, or those that are frequent or severe, may be indicative of a more serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, abnormal blood vessels in the nose, nasal polyps or growths or conditions that affect blood clotting.
Frequent nosebleeds, or excessive bleeding over a long period, can lead to anaemia which affects the ability of the blood to carry oxygen. Older people or those with other medical conditions (such as blood disorders) or on blood-thinning medication are particularly vulnerable.
Nosebleeds that happen more than once a week, or are particularly severe, should be checked to see if there is an underlying cause that may need specialist treatment.
Recurrent nosebleeds may be caused by:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Rupture of blood vessels close to the surface of the nasal lining.
- Abnormal growths in the nose or sinuses (nasal polyps or a tumour).
- Medical conditions that affect the blood clotting function.
- Abnormal blood vessels in the nose (Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome, for example, an inherited condition that makes it hard to control nosebleeds)
- Injury to the nose
During nosebleeds, blood flows out of one or both nostrils. Nosebleeds can be mild or severe, lasting from a few seconds to ten minutes or more.
Recurrent nosebleeds, frequent nosebleeds or severe nosebleeds can be distressing and, in some cases may be serious. For example, if the blood loss is high, nosebleeds can cause anaemia which affects the ability of your blood to carry oxygen.
Your doctor or ENT specialist will need to ask about your symptoms and examine you to find out the cause of your nosebleeds. This may involve looking inside your nose, possibly with an endoscope (a flexible instrument with a small camera at the end), measuring your blood pressure and carrying out blood tests.
Nosebleeds (epistaxis) are fairly common and are usually mild and easily treated. However, when bleeding is more severe or recurrent, especially in older people or those with other medical conditions (such as blood disorders) or on blood-thinning medication, treatment may be required.