DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 78-year-old, pretty healthy female. Every day last week, I woke early in the morning with blood running down my throat and out of my nose. I went to the ER twice. Once, the doctor cauterized my nose, and the next time he tested me for things like anemia and blood-clotting disorders. All were normal. I saw an ENT doctor and he didn’t say too much, but he also cauterized my nose. Through all this, my blood pressure has remained normal.

Is cauterization permanent? I am worried as to what brought this on. Any information will be appreciated. – R.M.

ANSWER:
For older people, the cause of most nosebleeds is drying and thinning of the nasal lining, under which lies a large network of fragile blood vessels. An inadvertent touch of the finger to the nose can make the lining drop off, and bleeding results.

Restoring moisture to the lining prevents bleeding. If your house is dry, as most houses are in winter, a humidifier is a good investment. With a gentle touch, apply a light coat of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to the lowermost part of the inside of the nose twice a day.

You have been checked for the serious causes of nosebleeds – clotting disturbances, nasal tumors and blood-vessel abnormalities. Your blood pressure is normal. High blood pressure might not cause nosebleeds, but it keeps them bleeding longer. People who take aspirin regularly or who are on Coumadin have a hard time putting an end to a nosebleed.

Cautery seals a broken vessel. It’s achieved through via silver nitrate on a stick, with electricity or with a laser. A scab forms, which eventually falls off, as does any scab.

If you have another bleeding episode, sit up and lean slightly forward to stop blood from dripping down your throat. Forcefully pinch both sides of the nose between your thumb and index finger. Hold the pressure for 15 minutes. That should stop the flow.

TO READERS: Questions on chronic fatigue syndrome are answered in the booklet by that name. To obtain a copy, write: Dr. Donohue – No. 304, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have always heard that once you get a staph infection, it never leaves you. I had an abrasion on the top of my buttock. The doctor said it was staph, and she took a swab of it. The truck that delivered the specimen had an accident, and the specimen was lost. The abrasion is still there. What should I do? – M.S.

ANSWER:
Staph is a bacterium to which we are exposed all the time. We can’t avoid it. If it enters the skin through a scratch, it starts an infection. The usual staph germ can be eradicated with antibiotics. It doesn’t stay for life. A super staph germ, MRSA, is difficult to cure with ordinary antibiotics, but it can still be treated with special antibiotics. It, too, does not stay for life if an antibiotic is found that can do it in. You must see a doctor. You should have the abrasion inspected. Any sore that doesn’t heal is a blinking red light saying: Get to the doctor for an answer and treatment.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


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