When your child has a nosebleed

It’s hard not to be alarmed when your child has a nosebleed, but it happens more often than you think.

Photo: Mieke Dalle/Getty Images

The cold winter months not only bring a nor’easter of sniffles, but it can also mean the prevalence of nosebleeds in kids. The drier air, low humidity and heated indoor spaces can all mean you might be seeing red this season.

The nose knows A nosebleed is a common occurrence in childhood and especially in younger children, but it can affect all kids, from toddlers to teens. It occurs when the lining of the nose that carries a high concentration of blood vessels is ruptured because of an irritation. Some triggers include an injury to the nose, change of weather, allergies, colds or digital trauma (yes, that means nose picking). A very small percent- age of children have abnormal vessels in the nose that lead to severe, reoccurring bleeding, but this is less common.

Stopping the gush A bloody nose can be distressful and seemingly dramatic (to both parents and kids) but Michael Weinstein, a paediatrician at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, says that they can easily be treated and managed at home. “Immediately add pressure to the soft part of the nose for at least 10 minutes without stopping. Avoid the temptation to stop and check if the bleeding has ceased,” says Weinstein. If the bleeding persists after 15 to 20 minutes of continuous direct pressure, contact your doctor.

Next steps To prevent future nosebleeds, or if your child is suffering from them frequently, Weinstein suggests placing a humidifier in his bedroom to help alleviate the dry air. “Or apply some petroleum jelly to the base of his nose to keep it moist,” he adds. If your child is picking his nose, discuss the dangers and keep his nails trim.

Do Have the child lean forward. Sit or stand, but don’t lie down. (The head should be above the heart.) Apply consistent, direct pressure with your thumb and finger, and pinch the soft part of the nose for 10 to 15 continuous minutes.

Don’t Lean back. This will cause the blood to drip down the back of the throat.

Did you know? Drinking hot liquids and doing strenuous exercises can cause nosebleeds to restart. It is helpful to avoid hot soup and hot drinks, and to stay away from lifting or straining for 24 hours after a nosebleed. – Canadian Hemophilia Society

A version of this article appeared in our January 2013 issue with the headline “Red alert” (p. 28).

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