Mom to Mom: Getting a grip on bloody noses
We’ve had some minor bloody noses in our home, and we’ve had some massive ones -- where we even had to call 911 to come help. Many times my boys have come home from school with blood-stained shirts from having a bloody nose at school.
It seems bloody noses and Arizona go hand-in-hand; the dry weather can wreak havoc on a little one’s nose. That’s because the dry air can cause small blood vessels to open up. This, coupled with a little one who likes to pick his or her nose, can be the perfect formula for frequent bloody noses.
Probably the most important – and maybe the trickiest- step is to calm down your child. Some kids become hysterical at the sight of blood. I remember when my oldest boy had nosebleeds, he would get himself all worked up and cry. This, of course, just made things worse. He eventually became used to it and was “trained” to get a box of tissues as soon as he knew his nose was bleeding.
Once your child is calm, take your finger and thumb and pinch the bridge of the nose. Try to make sure you are pinching the middle of the nose – just above the nostrils– and apply some pressure. Pinching too hard hurts and does not stop the nosebleed any faster, so make sure your are holding firm but not too hard. You can teach your child to do this as well, just be sure to stay nearby and watch to make sure it is being done correctly. It’s also important to have your child lean forward. I did not know this. I thought it was best to have my son lean backward. However, this allowed the blood to drain down his throat, which caused more hysteria and led to having his nose bleed even more. This position can also be harmful. My son learned to pinch his nose and lean forward over the sink until the bleeding stopped.
Keep pinching the cartilage for about 10 minutes. Repeat this until the bleeding stops. However, if the bleeding doesn’t stop after more than 20 minutes, you should call your pediatrician. Have your child do a low-level activity for about 30 to 60 minutes to prevent the nosebleed from recurring. Also do not allow any nose-blowing for about four hours – this includes swimming under water.
One thing to keep in mind is that since Arizona’s dry climate can lead to nose bleeds, make sure your child drinks enough liquids throughout the day to help keep hydrated. It’s also a good idea to use a humidifier at night. This helps moisten mucus membranes. Otherwise, breathing in through the mouth and out slowly out through the nose uses the breath to naturally moisten the nose.
The good news is many children outgrow bloody noses. But it is important that if your child suffers from frequent, unexplained nose bleeds, you should check with your pediatrician to make sure there is not an underlying cause.
Mom to Mom is a column written by Mary Parra, an Ahwatukee mother of four and a local journalist.