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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Sinuses and Nose Bleeds

02/15/1999

Question:

I am a 23 year old female. Many mornings I wake up with a bad headache I believe is caused by sinus problems. Can sinus problems also cause the back of your head to hurt? I have some problems breathing when my sinus passages are clogged up and sometimes can not even breathe through my mouth. Over the counter medicines make me feel dizzy and shaky even though I have taken the same kind of medicine for years. One of my main concerns though is that when I wake up in the morning,throughout the night my nose has bled and my nose id clogged up with blood clots. Someone told me this was because of my sinuses and not to be too concerned about it. Is this a possibily? And want exactly causes it? If the air is very dry can that help bring on problems with sinuses, and could dry air be causing the nose bleeds?

Answer:

Nosebleeds during the night this time of year are not uncommon, and the problem very much is related to the fact that the air tends to be very dry. There is very little humidity, and dry heat only aggravates the problem. This causes crusting in the nose which then can lead to bleeding. The solution is to try to provide more humidity, such as with a humidifier. However, an easier approach is to simply buy some saline (salt water) nasal spray that is readily available over the counter at your local pharmacy.

Your headaches may well be sinus related. A relatively small focus of inflammation within one of the sinus cavities may cause head pain. This is usually felt over the face, forehead, between the eyes, or within the temple area. It would not typically be felt over the back of the head. If this has been a persistent problem, and certainly if you have trouble breathing through your nose, then a more thorough examination by a physician would be worthwhile.

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Response by:

Allen M Seiden, MD Allen M Seiden, MD
Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Division of Rhinology and Sinus Disorders, Director of University Taste and Smell Center, Director of University Sinus and Allergy
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati