Asthma is a medical condition that causes narrow/swollen airways, increased mucus, and difficulty breathing. For some, it's a severe and life-threatening condition; for others, it's little more than a minor nuisance.
There are many symptoms of asthma and numerous issues that can arise as a result of this condition. But where do nosebleeds fit into all of this?
Are you more likely to get nosebleeds if you have asthma? If so, why?
What are the Most Common Asthma Symptoms?
Asthma symptoms vary from person to person, but may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Chest tightness
In some sufferers, these symptoms appear only when they are exercising or otherwise exerting themselves. In others, they are constant.
As you can see, "nosebleeds" are not on this list. But they are more common in asthma sufferers.
Nosebleeds and Asthma
There are two main reasons why you might experience frequent nosebleeds when you have asthma.
Use of Steroid Nasal Sprays
According to a meta-analysis published in 2019, intranasal corticosteroids may increase the risk of epistaxis, also known as nosebleeds.
These nasal sprays can help you to manage your condition but may irritate the delicate nasal passages and increase the risk of nosebleeds. If you're already prone to nosebleeds, steroid nasal sprays could greatly exacerbate the problem.
The study suggested that some medications were more problematic than others, but noted that all of them carry risk. If you suspect that your asthma medication is triggering frequent nosebleeds, speak to your doctor about changing your meds.
According to a 2021 study, patients with rhinitis are four times more likely to have poorly controlled asthma. It also noted that more than 80% of asthma patients have either allergic rhinitis or non-allergic rhinitis.
Rhinitis is a condition characterized by nasal inflammation and one that can produce an array of symptoms, including runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, and general nasal irritation.
If you constantly have an itchy nose, you're going to scratch it. If your nose is running, you're going to wipe it. You're also more likely to pick your nose and blow your nose as a way of relieving those symptoms.
All of these things can trigger nosebleeds.
Most nosebleeds are the result of nasal dryness, irritation, or trauma. People nick the delicate nasal septum when they pick their noses. They rupture the blood vessels when they blow or sneeze too hard.
And if the area is very dry, such as in the winter months when the heating is turned up, the nasal passages become dry and cracked, leading to ruptures.
Asthma sufferers are not just more prone to allergic rhinitis and non-allergic rhinitis. Nasal polyps and sinusitis are also more common in asthma patients and both of these could cause nosebleeds.
Can Lung Problems Cause Nosebleeds?
If your nosebleeds are accompanied by shortness of breath, dizziness, and other respiratory symptoms, it could indicate a more serious problem, including leukemia or heart disease.
It could also be anxiety-related. Anxiety can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath and heart palpitations. If you have a habit of touching, wiping, or picking your nose when you’re anxious, these symptoms could be accompanied by nosebleeds.
We can't make a diagnosis for you, but your doctor can. Book an appointment if you are worried. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Are Nosebleeds A Symptom Of Anything Else?
Nosebleeds rarely require medical attention and usually resolve on their own. They often have direct and obvious triggers, including nose picking and exposure to dry air, and the majority are over within 10 minutes.
There are exceptions, though.
A nosebleed could indicate a sinus problem that you weren't aware of. It may also indicate severe allergies (dust mites, animal dander, pollen), nasal polyps, or even nasal tumors. If the bleeding is always very heavy, it could be indicative of a blood clotting disorder.
If you suspect that you have an issue, consult your healthcare provider. They will enquire about your nosebleeds and make a note of when they occur, why they occur, and how heavy they are.
They will also conduct a physical examination and ask about your family history. Even if the cause of your nosebleeds is not as innocuous as a sharp fingernail scraping your septum, most causes are treatable and not serious.
How Can I Prevent Nosebleeds from Asthma?
There are a few things you can do to reduce the prevalence and severity of nosebleeds relating to asthma:
Find the Cause
As noted above, asthma is not a direct cause of nosebleeds. The first step, therefore, is to determine what's causing the issue.
Do you have hay fever? Are you allergic to animal dander? Speak to your doctor about allergy skin testing to see if you're suffering from allergic rhinitis.
If you're taking steroid nasal sprays to control your asthma, they could be the cause. This is also something you'll need to discuss with your doctor.
Avoid the Triggers
Once you learn what the triggers are, avoid them.
That could mean reducing/changing your medications or staying away from your friends' pets.
It could also simply mean not picking your nose. After all, most nosebleeds need a trigger, something that breaks the many delicate blood vessels inside the nose. If you're constantly rummaging around in there, your fingernail could be the trigger.
You don't have to pick your nose to clean it. Instead, use a neti pot and a saline solution to flush your sinuses. It will clean all of that dried mucus away and will also remove any allergens lodged there.
Don't Irritate Your Nose
Stay away from dry and cold air and refrain from wiping or blowing your nose too much.
If you live in a very dry environment, moisten the inside of your nose using a non-medicated saline nasal spray or a dab of petroleum jelly.
Talk To Your Healthcare Provider
Last but not least, if none of these things are working or you need a little more guidance, talk to your doctor.
Summary: Can Asthma Affect Your Nose?
Asthma isn't directly responsible for nosebleeds, but it could cause those bleeds indirectly.
It's rarely anything to worry about, though. The most common causes of nosebleeds are completely harmless and will resolve on their own. Such is the case with nosebleeds resulting from asthma medications and comorbidities.
If you are bleeding a lot or experiencing very frequent nosebleeds, consult your healthcare provider. They may discover a more serious underlying cause, or they may simply recommend a few lifestyle or medication changes that can help you.