Are Bloody Noses Hereditary?

Nosebleeds may in families, but not in the way that you might think. The question of, "Are nosebleeds hereditary?" can be boiled down to two points of discussion: Habits/predispositions and Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT).

Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT)

Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT) is a genetic disorder that also goes by the name Osler-Weber-Rendu Syndrome.

Individuals with this disorder develop abnormal blood vessels, known as telangiectasias, or abnormal capillary connections, known as arteriovenous malformations (AVMs).

These abnormal blood vessels are very fragile and can burst quite easily, leading to frequent bleeding and complications. The extent of those complications varies depending on where the abnormal formations occur.

Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) can form in the spinal cord, liver, and lungs, leading to serious problems such as heart failure, coughing up blood, and chronic pain.

One of the most common symptoms of HHT is nosebleeds, although symptoms can vary.

A parent with HHT has a 50% chance of giving it to their children, which is why this condition usually appears when you search for "are nosebleeds hereditary?"

What Is the Life Expectancy for People with HHT?

An individual with HHT has the same life expectancy as the general population. However, this is only true if the symptoms are treated, as lung AVMs and brain AVMs can cause heavy bleeding and serious complications.

Can Osler-Weber-Rendu Syndrome be Treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for HHT, but there are some treatments that could help you to manage the symptoms, including:

  • Laser Treatment: A minor surgical procedure known as "ablation" zaps problem areas with lasers to stop bleeding.
  • Anemia Treatment: Blood loss can cause iron deficiency anemia and iron pills are often prescribed to treat this problem.
  • Radiation: Can be used to remove the problematic AVMs.
  • Embolization: A process that involves blocking an area that triggers frequent bleeding, thus preventing further complications.

How Do I Manage HHT if I Have Frequent Nosebleeds?

Although there isn't much you can do to completely prevent nosebleeds, you can reduce the chances of them appearing and avoid heavy bleeding.

Firstly, you'll want to limit your consumption of blood thinning medications such as aspirin. NSAIDs can also be problematic for people with HHT.

Individuals with HHT should also pay more attention to humidity levels, as dryness is a major trigger for nosebleeds.

A little petroleum jelly on the problem area can help, as well. You should also pick up a box of Nampons to quickly and gently stop those nosebleeds.

What Do I Need to Know About HHT?

If you have been diagnosed with HHT, you should ask your doctor about potential complications and treatments. Inquire as to whether you should avoid sports, limit high-intensity activities, and abstain from certain substances. You can also ask about managing your symptoms.

Other Hereditary Nosebleeds

Some of the conditions that cause nosebleeds can run in families, including HHT, as discussed above.

However, biology and habits may also play a role. The way that the blood vessels, nose, and skin form may make some people more predisposed to nosebleeds. The same is true for sinus infections and other sinus issues, as these can irritate the nasal passages and rupture the blood vessels.

Habits such as nose picking and heavy nose blowing could be passed down, as well.

If the family members all live under the same roof, the nosebleeds could also be caused by the air quality in the home, as well as the temperature outside of it. Nasal dryness can crack and damage the nasal membranes, leading to ruptures and bleeding.

When more than one family member is having frequent nosebleeds, and there are no immediately obvious causes, dryness could be the cause.