Handle ITP Bleeding Episodes With Confidence

It usually takes some sort of mishap—a scratch or a bump—to cause bleeding, but when you have ITP you can bleed for no reason at all, especially from the nose and mouth. Luckily, we’ve gathered the info that shows you how to take charge. Note: Let your doctor know about any bleeding episode—it may be a sign your platelet count is low. She may adjust your therapy or prescribe meds to stop the bleeding.

Nosebleed
Head it off: Keep nasal passages supple—use a humidifier year-round to keep moisture in the air. At bedtime, smear a thin layer of water-based lubricant or antibiotic ointment inside nostrils; use a saline nasal spray or nose drops two or three times a day to keep nasal passages moist. Avoid blowing your nose too hard and try an over-the-counter nasal decongestant spray containing oxymetazoline—it helps constrict blood vessels to prevent bleeding.

Make it stop:
1. Sit upright and lean forward slightly to prevent blood from streaming down your throat.
2. Pinch your nostrils shut for 10 minutes to help stop the blood flow.
3. When you release your nose, keep your head elevated over the level of your heart—don’t bend over or lie back.
4. If bleeding continues, pinch your nose again and repeat the steps.

Call your doctor if: Bleeding persists for 20 minutes.
Call 911 if: Your nosebleed has been triggered by a head injury.

Bleeding from the mouth
Head it off: Keep your teeth and gums healthy by brushing twice a day with a soft toothbrush. Brush gently and don’t skimp on the toothpaste. To remove plaque and food debris between teeth, use interdental brushes—they’re softer and won’t cut into your gums the way floss can.
Tip: Opt for thinner “picks,” found at grocery and drugstores; they’re easier to insert between teeth.

Make it stop:
1. Bite down on a cool, damp tea bag or use your fingers to press a gauze pad soaked in ice water onto bleeding gums.
2. Hold this position for several minutes.
3. When your bleeding has stopped, take in food and beverages that are room temperature or cooler. Avoid hot drinks and food, which can trigger bleeding to start again.

Call your doctor if: Bleeding doesn’t stop or you develop swelling of the tongue, neck or throat.
Call 911 if: You have difficulty breathing or swallowing. 

For brain bleeds, get immediate medical care!
Call 911 if you experience a head injury or if you notice any of these symptoms:

• a headache that won’t go away
• dizziness
• vomiting
• unusual sleepiness
• confusion
• slurred speech
• eyes not moving together
• weakness on one side of the body
• stiff neck or back
• seizures
• you can’t see or hear

Published October 2013

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