When Your Nose Won’t Stop Bleeding: Causes and Cures | The Survival Doctorby James Hubbard, MD, MPH

In my last post I wrote how to treat the vast majority of nose bleeds. But what do you do when these methods don’t work and you can’t get to a doctor?

If your nose continues to bleed, despite pinching or packing it, the bleeding may be coming from an injured blood vessel too far back in the nose to get to. These posterior nose bleeds account for about 5 percent of total bleeds. For these, you’re going to need something skinny enough to go through the nose that can also expand beyond the nostril into the back of the throat.

If getting to a doctor is possible you should go and not waste valuable time trying a difficult procedure. Since posterior nose bleeds tend to involve an artery, you can loose a lot of blood fast.

If getting to a doctor is impossible, commercial devices for posterior nose bleeds are available. They’re called double balloon catheters. But you’re more likely to be able to get your hands on a Foley catheter—the kind you insert into the bladder for urination. So that’s what I’ll use to describe the procedure. I’ll also describe a makeshift version for when you have no Foley.

I’d never try this unless the bleeding is bad and there’s no way you can get to a doctor within a few hours. The procedure is difficult and uncomfortable and can even be dangerous.

>> Page 2: Foley catheter procedure.

>> Skip to: Alternate procedure (if you have no Foley catheter).


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Photo: Flickr/Laurent Diebold.