Nose Bleeds & Caffeine

One task your nose is responsible for is the moistening and warming of air before it enters your lungs. The inside of your nose contains tiny blood vessels that lie very close to the surface of your nasal passages. Nose bleeds, also referred to as epistaxis, occur when these tiny blood vessels get damaged. One of the most common causes of nose bleeds is dryness in the nasal passages, which can occur as a result of caffeine, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Woman drinking a cup of coffee (Image: Astarot/iStock/Getty Images)

Physiology

Drinking a lot of caffeine in beverages like coffee, soda, tea and energy drinks, dries out your body, pulling moisture from the mucous membranes of your nasal passages. When your nasal passages are dry, they become irritated and inflamed, making it more likely for the blood vessels to become injured, causing a nosebleed. When your nasal passages are dry, even a small injury from picking or vigorously rubbing your nose can cause a nosebleed. Moderate caffeine intake is three, 8-ounce cups of coffee or 250 milligrams per day, according to the National Institutes of Health. Unless you are sensitive to caffeine, this amount usually does not cause any side effects.

Treating a Nose Bleed

If you get a nose bleed from caffeine, don't panic. Sit up straight and tilt your head and upper body forward, not backward. Gently blow your nose to clear your nasal passages and then pinch the soft part of your nose. Breathe through your mouth and continue to hold your nose for at least five minutes. If the bleeding has stopped after five minutes, you may release pressure on your nose. If bleeding persists after five minutes, continue to put pressure on your nose until bleeding stops.

Prevention

The best way to prevent a caffeine-induced nose bleed is to avoid caffeine altogether. If this isn't realistic for you, and caffeine isn't causing any other problems, there are a few measures you can take to keep your body -- and your nasal passages -- lubricated to help reduce your risk of experiencing a nose bleed. Increase your fluid intake, consuming hydrating beverages like water and juice between dehydrating beverages like coffee, tea and soda. Take deep breaths during a hot shower. Inhaling the moisture in the steam helps to moisturize your nasal passages. You can also lean over a pan of hot water, but take care not to burn yourself. During dry, winter months, place a humidifier next to your bed. Breathing in dry air all night will dry out your nasal passages, making you more prone to nosebleeds when you drink caffeine. A humidifier adds moisture to the air, keeping your nasal passages moist.

Considerations

Everybody has a different degree of sensitivity to caffeine. Some people may be able to tolerate large quantities of caffeine, while even a small amount triggers adverse side effects, including a nose bleed, in others. Pay attention to your body and adjust your intake accordingly. While occasional nose bleeds are common, regular nose bleeds may signal an underlying medical disorder, like a blood-clotting disorder, nasal tumor or leukemia. If you experience regular nose bleeds or if an individual nose bleed persists for more than 20 minutes, contact your doctor.

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