Nosebleeds While Pregnant
Why do pregnant women get nosebleeds?
Pregnant people are more prone to nosebleeds because the blood vessels in your nose expand due to the pressure of all the new blood moving throughout your body. Your blood supply increases by as much as 50% when you're pregnant. The blood vessels in your nose are incredibly delicate and break easily. Imagine a balloon being filled with water. At a certain point, that delicate latex balloon can't expand anymore, and it will burst under the pressure. That is what happens to the blood vessels in your nose during pregnancy. Hormone changes during pregnancy can make your nose feel stuffy and congested and contribute to nosebleeds.
The medical term for nosebleeds is called epistaxis. Nosebleeds are treatable and rarely cause pregnancy complications.
How common are nosebleeds during pregnancy?
Nosebleeds are fairly common during pregnancy. One study showed that up to 20% of people will experience a nosebleed during pregnancy. Only about 6% of people assigned female at birth experience nosebleeds when they aren’t pregnant.
What can cause nose bleeding during pregnancy?
The changes in your body that happen during pregnancy can cause a nosebleed. There are a few reasons this happens:
- Increase in blood volume: When you become pregnant, the amount of blood in your body increases dramatically. This increase in blood volume causes the delicate blood vessels in the lining of your nose to burst more easily under the pressure.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes can cause a lot of symptoms in pregnancy. Your nose might be more congested or stuffy. The same hormones that thicken the lining of your uterus can impact the mucus membranes in your nose, making them more prone to bleeding.
- Dehydration: It's easier to become dehydrated when you're pregnant because you require more water. When you get dehydrated, the mucus membranes in your nose become dry and cracked. This could be a cause of nosebleeds during pregnancy.
- Allergies or colds: The blood vessels in your nose become easily irritated and inflamed if you have seasonal allergies or a cold. This makes them prone to breaking open. A condition called pregnancy rhinitis (the swelling of mucus membranes in your nose) causes congestion and stuffiness primarily in the first trimester. It can also contribute to nosebleeds.
What is normal for a nosebleed during pregnancy?
The amount of blood and the frequency of nosebleeds during pregnancy vary. Some people will have nosebleeds every day while others only have a few throughout their entire pregnancy. It can range from a light flow that fills a tissue to a heavy flow that might feel scary. In some cases, one side of your nose bleeds more often than the other side. Pay attention to your symptoms and talk to your healthcare provider at your next prenatal appointment.
When do nosebleeds start in pregnancy?
Nosebleeds during pregnancy start in the first trimester and can last until your baby is born. There isn't a clear starting point for nosebleeds during pregnancy. It depends on each person, their lifestyle, their medical history and other factors.
Are nosebleeds a sign of anemia?
Mild anemia (low iron levels caused by a decrease in healthy red blood cells) is usually OK during pregnancy. This happens due to the increase in blood volume. People who are anemic can suffer from nosebleeds, but there isn't a direct link to anemia causing nosebleeds. It's likely not the root cause of your nosebleeds. However, prolonged and excessive nosebleeds can cause anemia. Some signs of anemia are extreme fatigue, dizziness and pale skin. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of anemia and suffer from nosebleeds. They might want to order blood work and check the results of a previous blood test.
Care and Treatment
How to stop a nosebleed during pregnancy?
You can take the following steps to stop the flow of a nosebleed:
- Keep your head upright. Tilting your head backward or laying on your back increases the pressure in your blood vessels.
- Lightly squeeze your nostrils closed (the soft part just beneath the bridge of your nose). Do this for about 10 minutes. If the bleeding hasn't stopped, try again.
- If the flow is very heavy, you might need to lean forward so you don't choke on blood.
- You can apply an ice pack or a cold bag of vegetables to help constrict the blood vessels.
What should I do to avoid getting a nosebleed?
Sometimes nosebleeds are unavoidable, despite your best efforts. However, there are some steps you can take to help prevent getting a nosebleed.
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
- Use a humidifier to moisten the air when you sleep.
- Use a nasal gel, spray or water-based nasal lubricant to moisturize your nose.
- Keep your mouth open when you sneeze. This removes pressure from your nose.
- Avoid picking your nose.
- Blow your nose gently.
If you are prone to getting nosebleeds, it might help to do these things afterward:
- Avoid strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for the rest of the day.
- Try to minimize how often you blow your nose.
- Sit up straight or prop yourself up instead of laying down.
Should I worry about nosebleeds during pregnancy?
It might feel scary to have nosebleeds during pregnancy, but it's usually not a cause for worry. If your bleeding continues to a point where it's unmanageable or you begin to feel lightheaded, call your healthcare provider. They may want to rule out complications or health conditions. Otherwise, mention your nosebleeds at your next prenatal appointment.
When to Call the Doctor
When should I call my healthcare provider if I'm getting nosebleeds while pregnant?
Generally, nosebleeds aren’t an emergency. However, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately if any of the following apply to you:
- You have frequent and repeated nosebleeds.
- The flow is very heavy.
- The bleeding persists after 30 minutes of applying pressure.
- You have been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
- You have chest pain or trouble breathing.
- You feel lightheaded or dizzy.
- The bleeding doesn't stop or seems to get worse.
- Your nose is bleeding after a head injury.
If you experience a few nosebleeds during pregnancy, it's usually OK. Let your healthcare provider know at your next prenatal appointment that you have had nosebleeds. In rare cases, it can be a sign of a pregnancy complication.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Getting nosebleeds during pregnancy is common and usually harmless. They can be treated at home by pinching your nose closed for 10 minutes. Call your healthcare provider if your bleeding is heavy and lasts longer than 30 minutes or is accompanied by dizziness or trouble breathing.
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