I've Had Severe Nosebleeds For Over 20 Years — Here Are 4 Ways I Put a Halt to Them

Content warning: This post contains graphic descriptions of heavy bleeding.

I still remember my first nosebleed like it was yesterday. It was a hot July day, and I was just 6 years old at summer camp. All of the kids, including me, were running through the water sprinkler. Everything seemed playful and joyous until water went up my nose and blood started pouring out. The camp counselors panicked and gave me a tissue and an ice pack. I can still remember them bickering over how this had happened and what to do aside from calling my parents. Ever since that day, the nosebleeds just kept coming.

It wasn't until my early 20s when I found out that I had what my otolaryngologist refers to as an aorta of a blood vessel in my right nostril. At one point, I had nosebleeds on a daily basis. It wasn't until I met my current otolaryngologist (also known as an ear, nose, and throat doctor or ENT) in the emergency room that my nosebleeds finally came to a halt — more on that later.

As the weather gets colder and the air gets drier, nosebleeds can begin to creep up on all of us. Dry noses, nose picking, and other irritations to our nasal cavity can cause blood to come out instead of mucus.

If you tend to have severe nosebleeds, keep this post in your back pocket. Ahead are the various methods I've used to keep my annoying bleeds at bay, including a method you should not try — it sent me to the emergency room!

Reminder: Please consult your otolaryngologist before attempting any of these methods.

Use Ice Instead of Tissues
Pexels | Julian Paolo Dayag

Use Ice Instead of Tissues

We've all probably been taught to shove tissues in our noses when they bleed. This is actually something you want to avoid doing. Pushing tissues up your nose can potentially irritate your nose as well as cause your nosebleed to restart once you pull out the tissue.

Instead, have a tissue at the opening of your nose outside of the nostril to capture the falling blood and place ice or an ice pack on the bridge of your nose. The ice will restrict the blood flow and stop the bleeding faster than not using ice.

Frequent Nose Bleeds? Ask Your Doctor About Nasal Cautery
Pexels | Burak Kebapci

Frequent Nose Bleeds? Ask Your Doctor About Nasal Cautery

A PCR test is a walk in the park compared to nasal cautery. Nasal cautery uses a long, match-like stick with silver nitrate on the tip that restricts blood flow to the blood vessels it comes in contact with.

The procedure is performed by an otolaryngologist — and yes, they do numb the area before proceeding — but nasal cautery has definitely caused me to shed a tear or two. While this is considered a more long-term preventative measure, for powerful nosebleeds like mine, I've still had to have this done over a dozen times in my lifetime.

I still get this done annually for maintenance so my frequent nosebleeds stay at bay.

Do Not Use Tampons
Pexels | Sora Shimazaki

Do Not Use Tampons

Here's the one you should not try. Seriously, please don't try this! I've been told by my otolaryngologist that the lining of a tampon (even if it's 100 percent cotton) can dry with the blood and cause a thin layer of your skin to come off with it when you eventually pull it out — just like a tissue can. This can cause damage to the lining of the nose over time. So please don't try this.

When I used to do this, I thought that since tampons absorb blood, why not put them in my nose? Now while this method did cause a plug up my nose, other issues arose.

The issue mentioned above did happen, causing my nose to either start bleeding again or feel raw after removing the tampon; massive blood clots would form (about three inches long) and sometimes part of it would get caught in my nasopharynx, so I'd have to sniff it to my throat and spit it out. Or if I put a tampon in one nostril, it would sometimes bleed out of the other side so I'd have two tampons up my nose.

In the next slide, find out how having two tampons in my nose sent me to the emergency room.

How Bipolar Nasal Cautery Saved Me When I Was Bleeding Out of My Eyes: Content Warning
Pexels | cottonbro

How Bipolar Nasal Cautery Saved Me When I Was Bleeding Out of My Eyes: Content Warning

Content warning: This post contains graphic descriptions of heavy bleeding.

As promised, here's how two tampons up my bloody nose landed me in the emergency room and how I met my current otolaryngologist.

One day, several years ago, I had a nose bleed so bad that I kept swapping super-plus-sized tampons in and out of my right nostril; it got to the point where blood started pouring out of my left nostril. With tampons rotating out of both nostrils, I thought I'd finally got to a point where my nose bleed was almost over since the tampons weren't filling up as quickly. I was so wrong!

Next thing I knew, I was seeing orange. Blood started coming out of my tear ducts and glazing over my eyes. Continuously flushing my eyes with water, I called a cab to get me to the emergency room. As I hovered over the sink next to my bed in the emergency room, my now-otolaryngologist introduced himself, told me to lie down, and said he would fix everything. And he did.

He removed the tampons, irrigated a blood clot the size of half my palm out of my nasal cavity, cauterized my nose a couple of times, then used the bipolar cautery method.

The bipolar cautery method is essentially a laser that zaps the blood vessel to restrict (or stop) the flow of blood. The bipolar cautery method is one that shouldn't be done often because if one too many are performed, septal perforation can occur.

Since that day, I now only have to see him once or twice a year for a regular cauterization (mentioned earlier). So no more daily nosebleeds for this nose!

Ahead is the method he recommended I use for when I have light nosebleeds (bleeds that are light in flow and shorter than five minutes).

How to Stop a Severe Nosebleed: Cotton Balls and Afrin

How to Stop a Severe Nosebleed: Cotton Balls and Afrin

This method is an at-home one that I use on light nosebleeds that was recommended to me by my otolaryngologist. I take half a cotton ball and spray it until it's completely soaked in Afrin (a moisturizing nasal spray). I then place the ball in my nose for about five minutes, and my nosebleed resolves itself quickly.