Q. Are frequent nosebleeds something to worry about?

A. The occasional nosebleed—though a messy hassle—is nothing to worry about. If you experience them on a weekly basis, however, talk to your doctor to rule out high blood pressure or a bleeding disorder. In the vast majority of cases, nosebleeds are triggered when capillaries in the delicate lining of the nose are ruptured by a cold, sinus infection, dry air, or irritation from blowing and wiping. Nosebleeds are more likely in those taking blood-thinning drugs, such as warfarin or aspirin.

To stop a nosebleed, sit or stand up so the blood doesn't go down your throat. Tilt your head forward and pinch your nose firmly with your thumb and forefinger for a few minutes. After the nosebleed has stopped, apply natural vitamin E oil or zinc oxide ointment to the inside of your nose. Both of these help the injured tissues heal and can be applied daily.

Supplementing with bioflavonoids (as "mixed" or "complex" bioflavonoids, 500 mg/twice a day) may help strengthen blood vessels and make repeat nosebleeds less likely.

This Q&A was written by Victoria Dolby Toews, MPH, author of the The Soy Sensation (McGraw-Hill, 2002) and The Green Tea Book (Avery, 1998).