What You Should Know About Bloody Noses & Dehydration

Dehydration can cause a host of health issues, including urinary problems, kidney problems, seizures, and fatigue. But can dehydration increase the frequency and intensity of nosebleeds?

Could your case of epistaxis be caused by a lack of fluids?

Can Dehydration Cause Nosebleeds?

Dehydration is unlikely to trigger nosebleeds on its own, but it could increase the risk.

When you're dehydrated, your skin becomes very dry. You have a dry mouth, the skin on your face appears very dull, and your hands and arms may develop dry and even itchy patches.

If a lack of moisture is having that effect on the outside of your body, imagine what it's doing to your delicate nasal passages.

They can also become dry and cracked, and when that happens, there's a greater risk of exposing the delicate blood vessels. A sneeze, a scratch, a bump, or even a nose blow could be all it takes to rupture those vessels.

Of course, none of this applies if you're getting a few cups less than your recommended daily intake, nor is it something that will happen straight away.

Nosebleeds that result from dehydration tend to occur after chronic fluid restriction, as well as other environmental factors.

For instance, dehydration is rarely the result of fluid deprivation (either intentional or unintentional).

When dehydration takes hold, we feel its effects, we feel thirsty, and so we drink. More often than not, it's a result of extreme heat exposure or exertion, such as when you're stuck at work/school during a hot summer's day and don't have access to fluids.

In such incidences, the environment can also dry out your skin, leading to further complications and increasing the risk of nosebleeds and other health issues.

It's not uncommon for people to intentionally limit their fluid intake because they don't want to make repeat trips to the toilet. Maybe you're on the road all day. Maybe you're just not comfortable using the toilets at school or work. In such cases, even if you drink when you return home, your skin and even your organs may still suffer the consequences of prolonged fluid restriction.

Can A Dry House Cause Nosebleeds?

If your house is very dry, either because of the local climate or excessive use of heating/air conditioning, the skin inside your nose will dry out. A lack of fluids may exacerbate this issue, but a dry environment is enough to cause nosebleeds on its own.

There are a couple of quick fixes for this.

The first is to purchase a humidifier. Place it in the room where you spend most of your time. If you notice that your skin is particularly dry in the morning, place it in your bedroom.

The other fix is to apply a little petroleum jelly to the inside of your nose. It will form a protective barrier, keeping the delicate nasal lining protected and preventing dryness, cracks, and ruptures.

If that still doesn't fix the issue, and you find yourself getting frequent and heavy nosebleeds, there could be a number of other causes. Most of these are harmless and are nothing to worry about. In fact, the majority of nosebleeds are caused by direct trauma that results from nose-picking, nose-blowing, and irritation caused by a cold or sinus infection.

However, there are some exceptions, as well as underlying causes that could make those nosebleeds more serious (including bleeding disorders and the use of blood thinners).

What Can Nosebleeds Be A Sign Of?

It's normal to feel worried if you have a sudden nosebleed. In film and on TV, nosebleeds are often closely associated with severe illness...as well as psychic abilities. If you use Hollywood as a guide, a nosebleed either indicates that you're about to die or you've just unlocked your hidden telekinetic abilities.

In actual fact, it's more likely to mean that you've been picking your nose too much. Even if you're in your 60s and have never had a nosebleed before, it could simply indicate that your nails are longer/sharper than they were when you were younger. In fact, one of the reasons nosebleeds are common in older people is that their nails become tough and brittle, leaving them more prone to scratches and nicks when they pick.

It could also indicate that you're blowing your nose too hard, rubbing it too much (common during a cold), or have changed to a dry environment. It may also indicate trauma, such as from a knock to the face when playing sports.

If the nosebleeds are very heavy, or they are frequent and don't have an obvious underlying cause, consult your doctor. They can provide advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

In rare cases, nosebleeds could be indicative of serious health issues, but in most of these instances, there are other symptoms present.

Here are some of the indirect causes and triggers for nosebleeds, as well as conditions that could lead to heavier bleeding and medical emergencies:

  • High blood pressure
  • Medication side effects
  • Recreational drugs (including intranasal drugs like cocaine)
  • A bleeding disorder (including hemophilia)
  • Excessive use of intranasal cold and flu medicine
  • Allergies
  • Dry air
  • Deviated septum
  • Foreign bodies in the nose
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Trauma to the nose

Can Too Much Moisture Cause A Bloody Nose?

Although too much moisture is unlikely to trigger a dry nose, the same can't be said for too little moisture. Nosebleeds are more common in dry environments, which is why you'll often hear people complaining that they experience more nosebleeds in states like Nevada and Arizona.

There are also times when too much moisture can cause nosebleeds, but it's not a direct cause. For instance, if your nose is running as a result of a cold, flu, or sinus infection, you may feel like it's adequately lubricated. It makes sense. But there's a good chance that you're reacting to that excess mucus by blowing and wiping your nose. This will irritate your nostrils and could trigger a nosebleed.

When Should You Worry About A Nosebleed?

There are a few times when you should worry about nosebleeds:

  • The bleeding is very heavy and won't stop.
  • You experience regular nosebleeds with no direct or obvious cause.
  • You have pre-existing health conditions or take medications that may prevent you from forming blood clots.
  • You have recently suffered from head trauma.
  • The nosebleeds are accompanied by other symptoms, including dizziness, sickness, and headaches.

Dehydration and Nosebleeds

The blood vessels inside the nose are very delicate. It doesn't take much for them to rupture and bleed, and this is more common in some individuals than in others.

If you live in a very dry environment, suffer from regular sinus infections, take blood-thinning medications, or have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or a blood clotting disorder, you are more likely to experience regular nosebleeds.

But dehydration can also increase your risk. It's not just thirst, dry skin, dry mouth, and urinary/digestive problems, a lack of fluids could also make you more predisposed to nosebleeds.

So, drink plenty of water and listen to your body.