Common ailments

Nosebleeds

My 7 year old son suffers from nosebleeds at least 4-5 times per week. Bending down to put on his shoes is usually enough to trigger a nosebleed. I would not normally be concerned about a nosebleed but I am worried there might be a more serious, underlying problem.

Nosebleeds occur when the small, fragile blood vessels in the nose break, causing the nose to bleed. They are a common occurrence in young children, particularly as children often dash around and play physical games where a bump on the nose can often result in a nosebleed. A child might also pick their nose or blow their nose too vigorously and trigger a nosebleed.

Nosebleeds are generally nothing to worry about and most children will eventually outgrow them. Nevertheless, they can be a traumatic event for a child so it is important that you reassure your son that it’s nothing to be worried about.

When your child does get a nosebleed, ask him to sit down and press his nostrils together using his fingers and some tissue. With the other hand, pinch the lower, soft part of the nose between the thumb and forefinger for about 10 minutes. This should stop the bleeding and the blood will then thicken into a scab.

Like your son, some children are prone to frequent nosebleeds. Because your son is suffering from nosebleeds more than twice a week, I would advise you to visit your GP so they can rule out any underlying problem such as a bleeding disorder. This may involve some blood tests, and a blood count to check that frequent nosebleeds haven’t caused your child to become anaemic.

Your GP might also suggest referring your son to your local ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. They will be able to conduct a thorough examination of the back of your child’s nose for signs of an underlying cause. Your child may, for instance, have a deviated septum (where the bone and cartilage that separates the two nostrils is slightly bent). This can cause abnormal airflow through the nose, causing the lining of the nose to dry out and bleed more easily.

Your GP or ENT doctor will be able to recommend suitable treatment options for your son. One possible option is cauterisation which involves using silver nitrate to seal the bleeding blood vessel so that it bleeds less.

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