How can I prevent frequent nose bleeds brought on by low blood platelets?

5 answers | Last updated: Dec 06, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My 64-year-old mother, who has leukemia, is having frequent nose bleeds brought on by low blood platelets . They embarrass her when they happen in public. Are there any ways to prevent them?

Expert Answers

Terry Anders is a registered nurse and clinical educator at the Zangmeister Cancer Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Having a low platelet count leaves your mother vulnerable to nosebleeds because it takes her blood longer to clot. And once she has one, they tend to recur. So you want to try to prevent nosebleeds from starting in the first place, or at least break the cycle.

Nosebleeds tend to be more common during changes of season, particularly when the amount of humidity in the air fluctuates. Dry air dries out the mucous membranes and irritates the skin inside the nose. Inside the house, you can run a humidifier to keep the air moist. If your mother is using a free-standing heater, place a pan or bowl of water on top to add humidity to the air.

You can also try to moisturize the skin inside the nostrils. Using cotton swabs, gently dab a small amount of petroleum jelly or rich lotion inside your mother’s nose. Reapply often, including just before she goes to sleep at night. Also remember to reapply before your mother goes outside, particularly if there’s a dry wind. When your mother needs to blow her nose, remind her not to blow it too hard, as this often starts a nosebleed.

Once your mother does get a nosebleed, have her use her fingers to apply firm pressure just under the both sides of the bridge of her nose until the bleeding stops. She should keep her head raised; it doesn’t help to lower the head. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after 15 minutes of pressure, call her doctor.

Community Answers

Jasco67 answered...

I also have been experiencing low blood platelets for 3 months now. But I do have Hep C stage 4, bad spleen, the list goes on, anyway my platelets were down to 20; 3 different times happening more frequently. My Oncologist put me on Prednisone 20mg day and my platelets shot up to 65000 in 4 days! Normal is 100,000 to 400,000. But I felt so much better, and I stopped bleeding. It's only temp. I think as they still do not know what caused them to drop in the 1st place. Good Luck to you. JC

A fellow caregiver answered...

Having had Leukemia, I question why her Oncologist isn't doing more to bring her platelet count up.

Like JC mentioned, she probably should be on some immune suppressant therapy for a while, or even receive platelets in a transfusion.

Altaf bhojani answered...

I had 36 cycles of radiation for curing prostate cancer. After 9 months one night my platelets dropped to 8000 and I started bleeding profusely and had be hospitalised. I got four pints of blood and one mega unit of platelets. There had been mild to medium bleeding through out the month and still there are traces of blood in the stool. I am worried if it occurs again particularly when I am traveling in rural areas for work. I dont know whether it has gone or would get me again. Any treatment ?

Natel answered...

I have platelets of 2000, I often always do. My base line is around 2k and 20k. Always got bloody noses, for the ones that didn't stop we went to the hospital and saw an ENT. He packed it with his packing that grew as it got wet, it is uncomfortable but it stops it. May take a while to stop it, but it will. Also Afrin never worked for me, but they say it usually does. I wouldn't do prednisone right of way, as when you taper and drop you will get another bloody nose because of the fast drop in platelets... Platelets are an suppressant, so having leukemia I would not recommend it unless told to. You may also want to ask about amicar, it stops bleeding, but will eventually lead to liver failure if combined with chemo... I recently received a bone marrow transplant myself, so a lot of experience, also my mom is a nurse.