Whether or not they’re common for you, nosebleeds during pregnancy can be unnerving. Dr. Gleaton is here to break down why this can happen, and when you should actually be concerned.
By OBGYN and fertility expert Dr. Kenosha Gleaton
Epistaxis, AKA a nosebleed, is a common problem seen in around 60 million Americans annually. During pregnancy it can be a little bit unsettling, especially if you’ve never had a nosebleed before. Rest assured the majority of nosebleeds are harmless, so let's break down why they occur, and how you can try to prevent them from happening.
Why do people get nosebleeds while pregnant?
During pregnancy, the blood volume in your body increases by nearly 50%. This leads to increased pressure in the tiny blood vessels in your nose which can cause them to burst.
When do nosebleeds typically start during pregnancy?
Nosebleeds often start in the first trimester, but can worsen as pregnancy progresses
How common are they?
Around 20% of pregnant women will experience nosebleeds. Although they are quite common, they are rarely serious and typically can be treated at home.
What symptoms do you typically have?
Often patients experiencing nose bleeds will have frequent congestion, allergy related symptoms, and feel the need to blow their nose frequently. This along with the increased nasal pressure from blood volume.
Are pregnancy nosebleeds preventable?
Nosebleeds are not always preventable, but there are things you can do to reduce their likelihood and frequency:
- Use a humidifier to moisten dry air
- Blow your nose gently
- Use a nasal lubricant such as vaseline or nasal saline drops
- Aggressively treat cold and allergy symptoms
What are the best ways to relieve/treat nosebleeds?
Most nosebleeds will stop by simply applying pressure:
Sit upright, lean forward slightly, and squeeze the soft lower part of your nose (nostrils) with your thumb and index finger. Apply constant firm pressure for 10-15 minutes and reassess bleeding afterwards. Breathe through your mouth during this time. If brisk bleeding continues, notify your OBGYN or provider regarding next steps. Occasionally, patients will require emergency care for persistent nosebleeds that are unresponsive to pressure.
When to see a healthcare provider about your pregnancy nosebleeds?
If your nosebleeds become frequent or prolonged, ask your provider about treatment options which may include referral to a specialist to identify the site of bleeding and other advanced treatments.
To sum it up, nosebleeds are a very common and usually minor problem seen in around 60 million Americans and around 20% of pregnant people. Increased blood volume during pregnancy puts more pressure on your blood vessels, sometimes causing them to burst.
Using a humidifier, nasal lubricant or drops, and treating cold and allergy symptoms can all help prevent nosebleeds from occurring. If you do end up with a nosebleed, apply pressure on the nostrils for about 10 minutes and then reassess the bleeding. As always, if you have any major concerns, talk to your provider about next steps.