Nose Cautery for Nosebleeds: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

Nose cautery can help prevent nosebleeds. The doctor uses a chemical swab or an electric current to cauterize the inside of the nose. This seals the blood vessels and builds scar tissue to help prevent more bleeding.

For this procedure, your doctor made the inside of your nose numb. After the procedure, you may feel itching and pain in your nose for 3 to 5 days. Over-the-counter pain medicines can help with pain. You may feel like you want to touch, scratch, or pick at the inside of your nose. But doing this may cause more nosebleeds.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Nose care

  • Don't touch the part of your nose that was treated.
  • Try not to bump your nose.
  • To avoid irritating your nose, do not blow your nose for 2 weeks. Gently wipe it one nostril at a time.
  • If you get another nosebleed:
    • Sit up and tilt your head slightly forward. This keeps blood from going down your throat.
    • Use your thumb and index finger to pinch your nose shut for 10 minutes. Use a clock. Do not check to see if the bleeding has stopped before the 10 minutes are up. If the bleeding has not stopped, pinch your nose shut for another 10 minutes.
  • Apply antibacterial ointment or saline nasal spray to the inside of your nose several times a day for 10 days. This will help keep the area moist.

Activity

  • For the first 2 to 3 hours after the procedure:
    • Don't bend over or lift anything heavy.
    • Avoid heavy exercise or activity.
  • You can do your normal activities when it feels okay to do so.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
    • Avoid aspirin and NSAIDs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) while your nose is healing. They can increase the risk of bleeding.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You get another nosebleed and your nose is still bleeding after you have pinched your nose shut 3 times for 10 minutes each time (30 minutes total).
  • There is a lot of blood running down the back of your throat even after you pinch your nose and tilt your head forward.
  • You have a fever.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You still get nosebleeds often, even if they don't last long.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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