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Morning sickness, fatigue, and increased urination are known as common pregnancy side effects. But what about nose bleeds?

Although we talk about it less, many people experience nose bleeds when they become pregnant. Caused by the changes you experience when expecting, a bleeding nose is another annoying symptom many learn to manage.

In this guide, we’re discussing pregnant nose bleeds. Why do they happen? Are they dangerous? And how can you prevent them? To learn all that and more, keep reading.

Pregnancy and Nose Bleeds: A Pregnancy Side Effect

There’s a lot of pregnancy side effects that you can expect to experience. One of the lesser-known side effects is nose bleeds—also called epistaxis.

A nosebleed happens when there’s blood loss from the tissues of your nose. It usually only affects one nostril. Most nosebleeds aren’t serious and stop within a few minutes.

In general, nose bleeds can be caused by:

  • Dryness in the air, such as indoor heat during winter months, can cause dryness in the nostril and trigger bleeding.
  • Nose picking. Picking your nose (often when it’s dry) can trigger a nosebleed.
  • Even minor injuries can cause nose tissues to bleed.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Cold/sinus infection
  • Allergies

While nosebleeds are fairly common for everyone, you’re more likely to get a nosebleed during pregnancy. Only 6% of women get nosebleeds, but if you’re pregnant, your odds are one in five.

Early pregnancy Nose Bleed

Some people experience an early pregnancy nosebleed. Is it related to pregnancy or just a coincidence?

It’s possible your nose is bleeding as an early pregnancy symptom. Your blood volume progressively increases more in the second and third trimesters. However, there’s still a little increase in blood volume during the first trimester. According to one study, there’s about a 6% increase.

Whether you experience an early pregnancy nosebleed may also depend on when you get pregnant. For example, if you’re pregnant in the hot, dry summer and are exposed to the effects of a drying air conditioner, you’ll be more likely to get a nosebleed.

What Causes a Pregnant Nose Bleed?

We know that pregnant nose bleeds are more common—but why? There’s a few main reasons you may experience a bleeding nose while you’re expecting.

Increased Blood Volume

One explanation is that you have more blood in your body. When you’re expecting, your blood volume increases by around 50% to support your growing baby. By the third trimester, around 34-36 weeks, most people’s blood volume has reached its maximum.

Along with helping a growing baby, increased blood prepares you for delivery when you’ll lose blood. The downside is that all this extra blood can make your blood vessels larger and more fragile. The extra blood also causes your blood vessels to dilate. This might put pressure on those fragile nose vessels, making them rupture or bleed easier, especially when there’s a trigger like dryness or injury.

Imagine that your nose has many small blood vessels. Whenever your nose gets dry, even from breathing, one of those vessels may break and cause a nosebleed.

Pregnancy Rhinitis

You might notice that you tend to get nosebleeds only when you’re sick. Something similar may happen during pregnancy.

A common pregnancy side effect—affecting about 20% of people—is pregnancy rhinitis. This happens when the mucous membranes in the nose become swollen and inflamed. As a result, you might experience allergy or cold-like symptoms, such as:

  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Postnasal drip

If you experience pregnancy rhinitis, you may be constantly blowing and wiping your nose. This can irritate the blood vessels and cause them to bleed.

Dehydration

Many people become more dehydrated during pregnancy. This may be for a few reasons. If you suffer from morning sickness, vomiting can lead to a loss of fluids. As discussed above, you might also experience pregnancy rhinitis, which can also reduce fluids in the body. Other side effects, like increased urination or sweating, can also contribute to dehydration.

When your body becomes dehydrated, your nose dries out too. Unfortunately, this can lead to frequent nose bleeds. To rule this out as a cause of your pregnant nosebleed, make sure to sip water throughout the day.

Pregnancy Tumor

Before you diagnose yourself with a pregnancy tumor, you should know that while pregnancy nosebleeds are common, pregnancy tumors are rare.

About 5% of people develop a pregnancy tumor. Most commonly, pregnancy tumors usually occur in the mouth or the nose. If a tumor develops in the nose, it can cause a nosebleed. Treatment for pregnancy nose tumors, and the nosebleeds that occur with them, can include a medicated gel or nasal spray. If the tumor causes excessive bleeding or breathing problems, removal may be necessary. Pregnancy tumors typically go away after the baby is born.

Other Factors

Aside from increased blood volume and pregnancy rhinitis, you might experience a nosebleed for the same reasons as everyone else. That might include allergies, weather, or dryness indoors or outdoors.

Since you’re more susceptible to nosebleeds during pregnancy, even a seemingly small trigger can cause a nosebleed. While a roaring air conditioner may not have affected you before, it may now cause reoccurring nosebleeds during pregnancy.

Treatment for a Pregnant Nose Bleed

Pregnant nose bleeds aren’t usually serious and will stop within a few minutes of applying pressure. There’s usually no need for medical treatment.

If you get a pregnant nose bleed, what should you do?

Pinch Your Nose

  1. Lean slightly forward (to prevent the blood from going down your throat)
  2. Grab a tissue
  3. Apply pressure by pinching just above your nostril for a few minutes (about 5 minutes)
  4. Wipe away blood and check if nose is still bleeding
  5. If it’s still bleeding, repeat steps

VIDEO EMBED https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWpATRds8HM

Bleeding can be light or heavy but should stop within about 15 minutes of applying pressure. If a nosebleed doesn’t stop, seek medical attention.

Apply a Cold Compress

Although pinching your nose is often the easiest and best way to stop a nosebleed, you can also try a cold compress.

Place a cold washcloth, bag of frozen vegetables, or an ice pack on the bridge of your nose. The temperature can constrict the blood vessels, reducing the bleeding. While applying the cold compress with one hand, you can use the other hand to pinch just above the nostril to stop the blood flow. Apply for a few minutes, check to see if it’s still bleeding, and try again.

Nose Bleed No-Nos

  • Don’t lean your head back (to avoid blood dripping down your throat)
  • Don’t lay down (to avoid blood dripping down your throat)
  • Don’t pinch your nostrils (pinch just above your nostrils to stop the blood flow)
  • Don’t just stuff the nostril with tissue or wipe your nose— pinching is usually required to stop the blood flow

Nosebleeds that reoccur frequently could be a sign of a larger issue, so make sure to talk to your doctor. You should also seek medical attention if:

  • Bleeding is severe with a lot of blood loss
  • You’re having trouble breathing
  • A serious injury triggered the bleeding and needs treatment
  • You’re vomiting blood from the blood dripping down your throat
  • Bleeding doesn’t stop after about 30 minutes of applying pressure to your nose

How to Prevent a Nose Bleed During Pregnancy

There’s no surefire way to prevent a nosebleed during pregnancy; however, there’s things you can do to make getting one less likely. In general, you’ll want to avoid factors that irritate the nose or dry it.

  • Gently Blow Nose. When you’re sick or have allergies, take care to gently blow and wipe your nose. Blowing too hard creates irritation and can set off bleeding.
  • Use a Humidifier. If the dry air is causing nose bleeds, use a humidifier in your home or office to add moisture.
  • Turn Down Air Conditioning. Air conditioners can make spaces very dry, triggering a nose bleed. If you have frequent nosebleeds, try using an air conditioner only when necessary to see if it helps.
  • Moisturize Inside Your Nose. Although it may sound weird, try applying a saline nasal gel or petroleum jelly to the inside of your nose.
  • Stay Hydrated. When you’re not getting enough fluids, your nose blood vessels can dry out and bleed.
  • Manage Colds and Allergies. If you get a cold or have seasonal allergies, use a safe over-the-counter medication to control symptoms. If you reduce the amount of sniffling and nose blowing, your nose will be less dry and less likely to bleed.
  • Don’t Overuse Sprays. Sometimes doctors recommend a medicated nasal spray or decongestant. It’s important to take these as directed because overuse can lead to dryness and pregnancy nose bleed.

Summary: Pregnancy and Nose Bleeds

Nosebleeds are common but even more common during pregnancy. Although you might wonder why you’re experiencing them all of the sudden, it’s usually a normal side effect.  Because your nose is more prone to becoming dry, and because your blood volume has increased, you may find yourself reaching for a tissue more often.

Typically, nose bleeds during pregnancy aren’t a cause for concern and applying pressure for a few minutes will stop the blood flow. If your nose bleed doesn’t stop, becomes severe, or reoccurs too frequently, seek medical attention.

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