A lot of people find stressing over their lives is unavoidable. Stress can be a natural reaction with all the pressures and uncertainties of today's world. But can stress cause nosebleeds? The short answer is yes, but there are other factors that can be at play, too. In this blog post, we will discuss causes of nosebleeds such as stress, lack of nutrients and vitamins, high blood pressure and allergies; and how to deal with one when it comes on.
There are two different types of nosebleeds (medical term is epistaxis): anterior, which happens when the blood vessels in the front part of your nasal cavity break; and posterior, which occurs at the back or deepest point where it flows down into their throat.
In an anterior nosebleed, which account for 90% of nosebleeds, blood comes from the wall between your two nostrils. You might know this part of your nose as the septum and it is full of delicate blood vessels that can be easily damaged. Anterior nosebleeds are not usually serious - they might even only last for a few minutes before stopping on their own or with simple treatment at home.
Posterior nosebleeds start from inside the nasal cavity. When the artery branches responsible for supplying blood to your nose become damaged, peripheral vessels around them may tear and bleed. Blood flow from an anterior nasal haemorrhage will not typically enter the back of your throat; however as soon as you have a laceration or other damage to the arteries behind your septum, it's possible blood might seep into this area before being able to clot up fully. This type of nosebleed usually can't be stopped on its own and will need to be treated by your doctor or hospital. The good news is that posterior nosebleeds are not common, but if you have one make sure you know what's happening so it can get checked as soon as possible.
The two most common causes of nosebleeds are a forceful impact to the nose, or dry hot air which causes the inside of your nose to dry out. Recurring nosebleeds an be caused by these factors:
Be aware that certain dietary supplements can thin your blood and make bleeding difficult to stop:
Frequent nosebleeds may sometimes be a sign of a lurking, more serious issue, such as:
Although the sight of blood can be scary, most nosebleeds are nothing more than a minor annoyance. To avoid getting one in the first place take note of these tips as advised by the NHS:
Posterior nosebleeds can be harder to treat as they usually involve larger blood vessels that are at the back of the nose and therefor harder to reach. If you cannot get your nosebleed to stop through the above steps, you should seek medical help by calling your GP, NHS 111 or in severe cases, go straight to hospital.
While you're unlikely to have a nosebleed the next time you experience a stressful work meeting or have an argument with your partner, there is an indirect link which should be noted.
Prolonged periods of stress is one of the risk factors in high blood pressure or hypertension and this can be a direct cause of nosebleeds. The best way to know if you have hypertension is to check your blood pressure regularly either by a doctors or using a recommended at home testing monitor. It can be treated easily with medication but can be serious so you need to keep a medical eye on it.
Additionally, people experiencing stress are more likely to develop tick-like habits and picking your nose or nose blowing can be symptomatic of this. Try to leave your nose alone as picking will only exacerbate the problem!
Finally, feeling like you're under constant stress generally leads to inflammation in the body which in turn weakens the body's immune system against common viruses. Feeling stressed but also feel like you're always ill with colds, coughs and flu? There is a link. With these many of these viruses comes nasal tingling which can increase nosebleeds. It's important to stay healthy, eating a nutritious balanced diet and staying active to boost your immunity.
Treating a Stress-Related Nosebleed
If you think your nosebleeds may be triggered by stress in your life then there are simple steps you can take to destress and take back control.
Prioritising time by writing to do lists and things you want to achieve can help focus on those elements you can control in your life. Have those goals in mind and try to be single-minded enough to reach them. Remember to aim for baby steps to begin with.
Scheduling me-time to focus on yourself and what makes you happy will help relax and refresh your mind. Head to Yours app to find yoga classes to unwind, relaxation techniques and meditations to soothe away feelings of anxiety and stress and music to chill out to when you feel it's all getting too much. There are hundreds of classes to choose from so you'll never get bored and it's all tailored to your needs so you'll only see the good stuff recommended just for you.
Finally, the rewards from exercise are endless. Staying active will get the blood flowing and boosts endorphins to make you happy. This can be a simple 20 minute brisk walk, a relaxing yoga class or high-octane cardio class! Body and mind will thank you for it.
But if you feel that stress is affecting your everyday life and getting in the way of work and relationships you must talk to someone and get help. You don't have to suffer in silence.
They should stop after a short while and usually aren't serious, however, you should seek medical help if:
There is no direct link but fatigue can be a sign of blood pressure problems or sinus infections which can cause nosebleeds.
Use your instincts as to whether you think you're suffering from too many nosebleeds. NHS advice to to talk to your GP if you experience nosebleeds frequently and aren't able to prevent them.
Extreme heat and dryness in the air can cause the nasal membranes to dry out and become fragile and more prone to bleeding. Being in extreme heat can also mean you're not drinking enough water which can lead to dehydration. Keep hydrated with plenty of water when you're in hot climates.
In short, no, but you will often feel tired from other nosebleed-causing conditions such as stress, high blood pressure and possible tumours.
Most anterior nosebleeds will stop on their own or with some self-care steps in sitting down, applying pressure above the nostrils for 10-15 minutes.
If the nose pinching doesn't work immediately or you want to try a different treatment, you can place ice, a bag of frozen peas or a chemical cold pack over the bridge of the nose. This will constrict the blood vessels and help stop the bleeding.
It is not advised to tilt your head back during a nosebleed as it causes the blood to run backwards down the throat and could potentially flow down the airways and cause choking.
Although rare, there are conditions in which abnormal amounts of proteins in the blood can cause blood vessels to become fragile. This means you may be more susceptible to the odd nosebleed.
A 2018 review article in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology concluded that low vitamin D levels increase the risk of developing conditions including high blood pressure which may in turn account for increased bleeding.