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What causes nosebleeds? What can I do to stop this nuisance?

Nosebleeds are most common in children and elderly adults. The blood vessels are close to the surface and can easily break open. In the elderly, atherosclerosis can cause the blood vessels to become more brittle and, occasionally, blood thinning medications such as Coumadin or aspirin can also cause nose bleeds. To prevent nosebleeds, keep the nostrils moist by using a room humidifier, saline nose sprays or a small amount of Vaseline or antibiotic ointment applied just inside the nostrils. To stop a nosebleed, pinch the soft, lower part of the nose, pinching the nostrils closed against the septum. There are several popular remedies that don’t work – tipping the head back, pinching the bony part of the nose or applying a cold wash rag to the back of the neck. For a severe nosebleed, insert a small cotton ball with a small amount of Vaseline into the affected nostril and pinch the soft part of the nose for ten minutes. If the nosebleed continues or becomes a chronic problem, see your doctor. Cauterization can be used to prevent nosebleeds. If your nosebleeds are caused by blood thinning medications, your doctor may adjust the amount of medication you are taking until the bleeding is under control.

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