Stress and Nosebleed

by Andrew Mills


The human nose is full of blood vessels which can be easily damaged resulting in a nosebleed. Apart from any kind of trauma that results in injury to the nose, bleeding may also occur in dry weather or during the dry winter months when the nasal membranes turn too dry.

One of the more common causes of non-trauma induced nosebleeds is an increase in blood pressure. Hypertension induced nosebleeds is quite a common phenomenon and people who suffer from this condition may frequently experience nosebleeds especially in combination with other factors such as dry weather, rhinitis, infection, excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking and stress.

One of the effects of stress is an increase in blood pressure. The condition may be chronic, in which case it is known as hypertension or it may just be momentary. Over a period of time it has a high probability of developing into hypertension. Stress, coupled with poor lifestyle choices such as excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of exercise and poor dietary habits will often lead to hypertension.

The increase in blood pressure due to stress makes the blood vessels in the nose very susceptible to rupture which results in bleeding. Any normal activity such as blowing your nose or sneezing can cause bleeding through the walls of blood vessels that have been weakened and under increased pressure.

Since many nosebleeds are spontaneous and have no apparent symptoms, a nosebleed from stress can make for a difficult diagnosis. Before arriving at such a conclusion, a doctor will have to take a thorough medical history. A number of causes will have to be ruled out including hemophilia, leukemia, other causes that inhibit blood coagulation, hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, cocaine and amphetamine abuse and the use of medications such as anti-coagulants aspirin and NSAIDs. In the case of children and even some adults, nose picking will also have to be considered. Males going through puberty may have nosebleeds due to angiofibroma and smokers may suffer from the same condition because of cancer.

Laboratory tests that will aid in ruling out these other causes will include a complete blood count, prothrombin time, partial thromboplastin time, platelet count and other tests to evaluate blood coagulation.

Once these other causes have been ruled out, the doctor may make a tentative diagnosis of stress induced nosebleeds. Your doctor may recommend that you consult a psychiatrist in case you are severely stressed. Psychiatric treatment may involve the use of sedatives to keep you calm.

In preventing and treating nosebleeds caused by stress, you will need to learn to recognize the early symptoms of stress. These include:

  • A rise in blood pressure felt as a slight tingling in the head or feeling flushed
  • A rapidly beating heart
  • Shoulder muscles that have tightened
  • Aching neck and shoulders
  • Cold clammy sweat
  • A lack of interest in stress or sexual dysfunction
  • Headaches
  • Temper outbursts

There are several other steps you can take to manage your stress effectively. These include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Limiting your intake of alcohol & caffeinated beverages
  • Limiting the amount of time you spend at work
  • Learning relaxation techniques such as meditation
  • Join a yoga class under the guidance of an experienced instructor
  • Learn to take time out from your schedule and spend it with your family and friends
  • Talking about your problems with others is not a sign of weakness and will help to lessen the burden

Talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about other measures you can take to reduce stress and blood pressure. And most importantly, learning how to administer first aid in case you experience a nosebleed goes a long way.

References:

  • http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Programs-and-Services/Sinus-Center/Conditions/Nosebleeds.aspx
  • http://drdavidson.ucsd.edu/portals/0/cmo/CMO_03.htm

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