6 January: Q&A with Mr Paul Nix

My eight year old son suffers from regular nose bleeds. There doesn't seem to be any particular trigger, although it will bleed easily if he bangs it or if he's playing outside in the cold. My husband suffers from nosebleeds and has had his nose cauterised, although he still has the occasional nosebleed. Is it something my son will grow out of, or should I ask my GP for a specialist referral?

Mr Paul Nix, Consultant ENT Surgeon:

Nosebleeds are common. Almost everybody has one and they have a peak incidence in the 2 to 10 year-old and 50 to 80 year-old age groups. Most cases are related to trauma and resolve with simple measures such as squeezing the end of the nose between your thumb and index finger. It is very unlikely that there is a serious underlying cause to the nose bleed. If the nosebleeds are frequent as you mention, then a referral to your doctor or an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon would be advisable.

Usually, the source of bleeding is easily identifiable and treated in clinic. This typically involves numbing the inside of the nose with a local anaesthetic followed by nasal electro surgery. It is usually very effective in stopping a recurrent nosebleed.

You mention that your husband also has recurrent nose bleeds. Very occasionally, there are conditions that can run in the family such as disorders of the blood or disorders of the blood vessels. These tend to cause lifelong problems and require specialist treatment by an ENT surgeon.

If there is an ongoing family history of nosebleeds then I would advise people to contact their doctor or ENT surgeon out of an exercise of caution. As mentioned above, there is usually no sinister cause behind the problem, but effective treatments do exist.

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Mr Paul Nix

Mr Paul Nix, Consultant ENT Surgeon, Spire Leeds, private hospital, Roundhay, West Yorkshire

Mr Paul Nix, Consultant ENT Surgeon, Spire Leeds Hospital

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