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Understanding Posterior Nosebleeds

Understanding Posterior Nosebleeds

Roughly 60% of Americans have at least one nosebleed during their lifetimes, according to data from the National Library of Medicine. That’s a lot of nosebleeds — but fortunately, most can be taken care of simply, with a little home care. 

Still, about 10% of nosebleeds are serious enough to need medical attention. Most of those are posterior nosebleeds, bleeding that happens in the back part of your nose, near your throat.

As a leading ear, nose, and throat practice, ENT Specialists has extensive experience in diagnosing and managing posterior nosebleeds. Here’s what our team wants you to know about these uncommon but potentially dangerous bleeding problems.

Posterior nosebleeds: the basics

Most nosebleeds involve the front part of your septum, a flexible piece of cartilage that separates your nostrils. The skin here is very thin, and these little vessels are prone to damage from dry air or even from blowing your nose too hard. These anterior nosebleeds typically stop on their own fairly quickly.

Posterior nosebleeds are different — not just because they’re located far back in your nose, but also because they often involve larger arteries. While anyone can wind up with one of these nosebleeds, especially following a trauma to the nose, they tend to be more common among people who:

Allergies, sinus infections, and use of certain prescription and illicit drugs can also increase your risk of posterior nosebleeds.

When your nosebleed needs a doctor

Certainly, any nosebleed that won’t stop requires a doctor’s care. You should also schedule a visit if you have chronic nosebleeds, especially if they tend to be heavy or hard to stop.

It’s also a good idea to see our team if you develop a nosebleed after a facial trauma or if you have a heavy nosebleed and one of the risk factors for posterior nosebleeds, like a bleeding disorder or you’re taking prescription blood thinners.

If you have a nosebleed that involves massive bleeding, if you feel light-headed or fatigued, if your skin turns pale, or if your nosebleed is interfering with your breathing, you should seek emergency medical care. The same is true if your nosebleed is accompanied by chest pain.

Treating a posterior nosebleed

Unless your bleeding is causing serious symptoms, our team usually begins treatment with nasal packing and medicines to constrict the blood vessels that are involved. Often, these steps are enough to stop the bleeding.

If bleeding continues despite these treatments, embolization may help. In this treatment, targeted heat is used to seal the bleeding vessels. If you have chronic, severe nosebleeds, we might suggest embolization as an initial treatment.

Minor nosebleeds typically can be treated at home by applying pressure to your septum (pinch it between two fingers) for about 15 minutes, and using four “squirts” of an over-the-counter nasal spray, like Neo-Synephrine® or Afrin®, to help constrict the blood vessels.

If you have chronic nosebleeds or a nosebleed with heavy bleeding, book an appointment online or over the phone at our offices in Salt Lake City, Murray, Draper, Tooele, or West Jordan, Utah, to learn how our team can help.

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