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What causes nosebleeds during pregnancy?
Pregnancy can make the blood vessels in your nose expand, and your increased blood supply puts more pressure on those delicate vessels, causing them to rupture more easily. That's why nosebleeds are common during pregnancy – 20 percent of pregnant women have them, compared with 6 percent of nonpregnant women.
Fortunately, the occasional minor nosebleed is usually harmless. Some doctors say even a few nosebleeds over the course of pregnancy aren't cause for alarm.
You're especially likely to get a nosebleed when you have a cold, sinus infection, or allergies, or when the membranes inside your nose dry out, as they do in cold weather, air-conditioned rooms, airline cabins, and other environments with dry air.
An injury and certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or a clotting disorder, can cause nosebleeds as well.
How can I stop a bloody nose in pregnancy?
If you have a bloody nose during pregnancy:
- Sit down and lean forward a bit, but keep your head higher than your heart.
- Using your thumb and index finger, firmly pinch the whole soft lower part of your nose – that's both nostrils.
- Breathe through your mouth and squeeze your nostrils closed for 10 to 15 minutes. Don't let up or check to see if the bleeding has stopped before then because that could interfere with clotting. (You may want to set a timer.)
- Apply ice to constrict the blood vessels and slow the bleeding. Hold a cold pack or a bag of frozen peas over the bridge of your nose with the hand that's not pinching your nostrils closed.
Don't lie down or tilt your head back: You might end up swallowing blood, which could cause nausea and vomiting or even make you accidentally inhale some blood.
If the bleeding hasn't stopped after 15 minutes of applying pressure and ice, continue for another 10 to 15 minutes.
When should I seek medical care for my nosebleed?
Contact your provider if you have frequent nosebleeds during pregnancy. She may want to do an exam to rule out any bigger problems.
Sometime a nosebleed during pregnancy requires immediate medical attention. Call 911 or have someone drive you to the emergency room if:
- The bleeding doesn't stop after 30 minutes of pressure.
- The blood flow is extremely heavy.
- You have trouble breathing because of the bleeding.
- You get a nosebleed following a head injury, even if you only have minor bleeding.
- The bleeding causes fatigue, lightheadedness, or disorientation.
- You turn pale from the bleeding.
- You have chest pain.
Can I do anything to prevent nosebleeds during pregnancy?
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep your mucous membranes well hydrated.
- Blow your nose gently. Blowing too hard can cause a nosebleed.
- Try to keep your mouth open when you sneeze. This distributes the pressure of your sneeze rather than concentrating all of it in your nose.
- Use a humidifier inside your house, especially during the winter or if you live in a dry climate. Don't overheat your bedroom, and stay away from irritants like smoke.
- Use a lubricant to prevent dryness in your nose. Some experts recommend petroleum jelly. Others suggest a special water-based lubricant that's available over the counter at pharmacies. Saline nose sprays or drops can help too.
- If your provider recommends that you use a medicated nose spray or decongestant, take it exactly as instructed. (Don't overuse it.) These medications can dry out and further irritate your nose.