Recurrent nosebleeds

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.

Recurrent, frequent nosebleeds, even if they are mild and soon stop, may become distressing for the sufferer. If this is the case, your doctor may refer you to an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist for investigation and treatment.

Treatment for recurrent nosebleeds includes cauterising (sealing by chemical or heat application) the area that bleeds or in extreme cases, ligation (tying off) of the blood vessels that cause the bleed. These are usually very successful in stopping recurrent nosebleeds, and are relatively minor procedures.

If you’re suffering from a nosebleed, simple first aid will usually stop the bleeding. However, always seek urgent medical help if the bleeding is severe or if it doesn’t stop within 20-30 minutes.

Depending on the cause of your recurrent nosebleeds, your specialist will use different techniques for treatment.

The main treatment for frequent nosebleeds is cautery . This can usually be carried out under a local anaesthetic which numbs the area so you won’t feel any pain. During cautery, the specialist will seal the blood vessel using a chemical stick or electro-cauterising (burning) it, using an electric current running through a wire.

You’ll usually be able to go home on the same day as your operation. Before you go home we’ll check that there is no bleeding from your nose and we’ll discuss follow-up visits and any medication with you before you leave hospital.

In common with any operation, there may be some risk of pain, further bleeding or infection.