Nasal Cauterization, or, Scott Faints

If a person has been having frequent nose bleeds, it is most likely caused by an exposed blood vessel in their nose. Even if the nose is not bleeding at the time, it is cauterized to prevent future bleeding. The different methods of cauterization include burning the affected area with acid, hot metal, lasers, or silver nitrate. Such a procedure is naturally quite painful. Sometimes liquid nitrogen is used as a less painful alternative, though it is less effective. In the few countries that permit the use of cocaine for medicinal purposes, it is occasionally used topically to make this procedure less uncomfortable, cocaine being the only local anesthetic which also produces vasoconstriction, making it ideal for controlling nosebleeds.

– Wikipedia, “Cauterization

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I’ve been having frequent nose bleeds my whole life, as best I can recall. I finally went in to an ENT this morning to get the sucker cauterized. They don’t use cocaine for it around here, or lasers, or hot metal, or acid. They do sometimes use electric cauterization, but my ENT starts with silver nitrate and goes from there. The silver nitrate comes on a stick and the thing looks exactly like one of those big fireplace matches. But they don’t light it. The Wikipedia article says that they wet it, then rub it around in there. It also says that the stick is called a “lunar caustic”, which sounds pretty cool. You can buy these sticks on Amazon. These wouldn’t be a lot of fun at home, I don’t believe. I didn’t notice my ENT wetting it, but she might have. But let me back up.

This was the first time I’ve seen this (or any) ENT, so she wanted to get a good look up in the old nose. She sprayed up in there with some numbing stuff, which tasted extremely bitter as it came out the back of my nose into my throat, then let that sit there for five or ten minutes. While she was rummaging around in a drawer for something, I saw she had one of those “head mirrors” in there. I chuckled at that, since I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those in real life before. Check out the Straight Dope column on the subject, from 1993:

Just about all doctors used head mirrors at one time and they became, along with the stethoscope, one of the symbols of the profession. But they could be a bit of a hassle to use and they did make you look like a space alien, so today many doctors prefer a penlight or other examining device. Some ENT (ear-nose-throat) specialists still use head mirrors, though, so look one up if you get nostalgic.

Fifteen years later and it’s still true. Though to be honest, she never put on the head mirror, it just sat in the drawer the whole time.

Anyway, the doctor then ran some thin flexible probably fiber-optic scope up my left nostril, then my right, both time inserting it far enough that I could feel it coming out my ears. Wayyyyy past the spot where I get my nosebleeds, anyway. And I only get them in one nostril. But, you know, doctors always need to look around. The scope was uncomfortable. Not painful, but not pleasant.

She determined that I had a misshapen septum and some nasal polyps, all of which contribute to my frequent mouth-breathing. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of anybody ever going to an ENT and not being told they have a misshaped septum, which could be surgically corrected to let them breathe better. So that wasn’t a surprise. The polyps, on the other hand… meh. She said they were pretty symmetric across both nostrils, and that and other signs indicated they were probably not, you know, cancer. But she’d still like to at least get a biopsy sometime to make sure. Or maybe they should be removed, to improve breathing and sinus function. In which case they’d grow back, but if you’re lucky, it would take eight to ten years. Or maybe they should just be removed at the same time I get that septum surgery that everyone on earth seems to need.

I shrugged — with a knowledgeable shrugging air about me — quite a bit during this discussion. I mouth breathe a lot but it doesn’t bother me much and I can’t smell much of the time, which is a little worse, but I’ve also seen what the recovery from nasal surgery looks like and my personal opinion at this time is that it isn’t worth it.

On to the main event: the cauterization. I’d had a nose bleed in the middle of the night, actually, so locating the spot was a piece of cake. She cleaned and suctioned it to get off a bit of scab (I didn’t feel a thing) then started rubbing the silver nitrate matchstick on the spot. Starting from slight discomfort, this grew into a small pain, then a medium sized one, and a bit beyond that. She sprayed some more numbing stuff in there and kept going a little bit. The pain wasn’t that bad, really.

But between the scoping and the cauterization, I guess my body said “enough”. I had what might be a vasovegal episode. As she was finishing up, I started getting that shocky feeling you get — you know, like when you cut yourself deeply on the thumb or something? I’ve had this happen once before, when getting a chalazion in my eyelid incised. Next I started feeling lightheaded, a bit dizzy. The doctor made sure I was ok and had me lie back for a while. I think at its worst I might have passed out or been on the verge of it: I suddenly felt like I had been sleeping and wasn’t sure what was going on for a few seconds. As the doctor left the office to wait for me to recover, I started sweating profusely. Soon I was feeling better, not dizzy, not shocky, but the intense cold sweat lingered and soaked through the front of my shirt.

Soon that was over too, and the doctor gave me post-procedure instructions: saline spray four times a day, antibiotic ointment twice. She warned me I might have a mild sore throat as the silver nitrate tricked down. In fact, I already did. As the numbing stuff wore off, my nose felt worse and worse too. It’s been an uncomfortable four hours since then, but I think I can feel it getting better already.

Update, Dec 8, 2008:

It took longer than I expected to feel healed up from the cauterization. I was never debilitated, but my nose hurt on and off for days, and not just at the cauterization site. Instead, the pain kind of crept around the cartilage areas of the lower nostril, and I’d also get sympathetic pains in my teeth and jaw on that side. The scabs that formed inside my nose would be very annoying as well.

For a procedure that doesn’t need any pain meds, it’s pretty annoying.

Update, Mar 23, 2011:

So far it’s worked. In the years since, I’ve had a grand total of just one nosebleed in the same nostril, in a different place from where I used to get them.


65 Responses to Nasal Cauterization, or, Scott Faints

  1. Dalesrunner says:

    Hey Scott, found your site when googling nosebleeds, trails are great aren’t they, also do you do fellrunning as we do in the UK? Our copious amounts of rain helps keep things nice and muddy. Anyway, I had a nose cauterization on Sunday 28th Dec after a big bleed, tomorrow weds 31st Dec I need to run eight miles to make my target of 1,000 for the year and I am terrified it will burst open. How soon did you run after yours? Cheers.

    • Debra says:

      I went to the gym the next day after havering two veins cauterized in my left nostril. The throbbing and teeth pain has been annoying but that’s it.

  2. Scott says:

    I ran ten miles (flat, slow and difficult if I recall correctly) just two days after the cauterization and another five the next day. I had asked my doctor if running was OK and she (actually her nurse) said yes, even the day-of, as long as I took it easy. Of course my nosebleed situation may be different than yours — I was prone to frequent smallish nosebleeds myself.

    (We don’t have fell running here. I *think* that’s partly because we lack the public right-of-way laws that prevail in UK and much of Europe, and so are more limited in our choices when it comes to running routes.)

  3. Dalesrunner says:

    Thanks for the advice Scott – did nine miles slow on 31/12 to meet my 2008 target without any recurrence. It still hurts a bit though, strange! Note your comment on fell-running – your restrictions may acually be quite sensible as we don’t have any dangerous wild animals any more like you do unless you count the odd mad cow so safer to stay on the trail. Final comment (I won’t take over your blog!) noticed another post on hypertension; I’ve had this since my twenties, no reason could be found despite lots of investigations, I can strongly recommend ACE inhibitor (lisinopril) which for me have no side effects, stay right away from betablockers they are the devil’s work for a runner. Hope you have a great running year in 2009.

  4. gal says:

    so the only solution my nosbleed stops is to go on a Cauterization?? is it worth it ??

    • Scott says:


      If you see a doctor who can perform a nasal cauterization I’m sure they’ll be able to discuss other options too — some people respond well to saline sprays, or mild steroids. Cauterization was worth it for me, though.

    • Debra says:

      Yes, if they are frequent and affect your work and every day life. It is annoying. But a short term recovery time. Second day since I had it done , worked both days.

  5. Chris says:

    Hello Scott!
    I’m fourteen years of age, and I do believe I have some form of insurance. For the latest few years of my life, I’ve had frequent nose bleeds. Lately, though, I’ve had much more frequent bleeds (daily, sometimes two or three times a day.) lately. Enough with the background info, now to the question. How would I go about to an ENA (since I’m guessing a medical doctor doesn’t do nose cauterizing) for a cauterizaing?

    • Scott says:

      Well Chris, in my case I asked my general practitioner (my main, regular doctor) about it and she referred me to an ENT. You’re right, most general doctors don’t do cauterization (although some might). But what you should do all depends on what kind of insurance you have, at least if your’re in the U.S. Some plans require a referral from a designated PCP (primary care physician), some let you see anybody you want, most provide better coverage for “in network” rather than “out of network” doctors. There are also HMO plans where you get all your heath care through the same company. You need to find out how your insurance works and go from there. Good luck.

  6. Alex says:

    Thanks for writing this article, I’m 20 and have had nosebleeds every few months for as long as I can remember. They are often triggered by the slightest knock, or just start of their own accord, and pour quite badly for about 5/10 minutes, but then heal up fine. I’ve been considering getting it cauterized for a while now, but haven’t yet found a good explanation of what happens, but now I think I’m gonna go get it done. Just a few questions, have you had any bleeds since, and how long did it take it heal completely?

    Thanks a lot, Alex

  7. Scott says:

    Not a single nosebleed in the four months since. In fact, I thing my nose is less stuffy in general since having it done — the irritation may have been triggering inflammation, perhaps.

    I think it took between two and three weeks for it to feel completely healed.

  8. tom Canada says:

    I am curious about this cauterization..stuff..
    I am 60 and for years when I was in my 20s-30s I had nosebleeds at least once a week .. they gradualy went away..!
    However in their place I developed a ‘sensitivity’ in one nostril (just where the soft part of my nose turn to cartilage– about half way up the nostril. It happens for example when I walk past the detergents, or perfumes , etc, in a mall..
    This causes instant watery eye and nose leaking.. along with a like a needle at that little spot.
    I have some mild allergies also.
    I wondered if this might be ‘somewhat’ common?
    Anyone heard of this ? And what about getting this ‘spot’ nitrated ? ?

    • bec says:

      hi. im 27 and have had nose bleeds since i was 6. i had my nose first cauterized when i was 8 and have just had it redone today in a&e after a heavy 2 and a half hour bleed! it was bleeding while the doc cauterized it and it was agony! the doc didnt spray, rub or numb anything! the doc was lovely though. its been 4 hours now and im in more pain. the whole side of my face aches as do my teeth my ear and throat, not forgetting my nose. now it wont stop running! recently i have had just random nose leaking like water, all floral smells sends me into fits of sneezing. i have had sores in my nose that are very painfull too. i have to go back to see a specialist at the ENT so i should get more find out more. good luck for you.

  9. ame nielsen says:

    I am so glad I found your post about the silver nitrate treatment you had!! I had it done 3 days ago, and I had the exact same problems at my visit, the sweating and almost passing out and my doctor didn’t even notice!!!!!! I am having crazy pain too from my nose down my face to my teeth, I keep taking Ibuprofen but when it wears off it’s horrible!!!!!! I am glad I found your post, at least I know that what I am experiencing is normal! THANKX!!

  10. Scott says:

    Hope it feels better soon, Ame.

  11. Ali says:

    I just got my nose cauterized today and I am so glad that I found your post! I have cross country every morning and I didn’t know when I’d be able to run again. My doctor is having me keep a cotton ball with special ointment packed up my nose for 24 hours a day for one to two weeks. A bit extreme, I think. Anyways, I’m going to try to run again in two days like you did. Oh and did the silver nitrate run down your nose as well as your throat? I have a black nostril now, which is not the least bit fun when walking in public places. Hopefully it will come off in a few days. Thanks again!

    • josh says:

      hey im glad i cam across this….my nose is sore as well i just had it cauterized today i also had some run down my nose and i have a black nostral did it go away and how long??

  12. Scott says:

    Ali — no, I didn’t have much run down my nose, and I sure didn’t get a black nostril. That sounds a little unusual, but I don’t know. Hope it heals up soon.

  13. Tania says:

    i am 21 years old and i have been having nose bleeds my whole life as well. mostly small and frequent, but occassionally i spend 20mins in the bathroom with a persistant one. my mum has been telling me to get the cauterization done but i am reluctant to do it because i dont want to lose any of my sense of smell. my sight and hearing are already not the best you could wish for, so my good sense of smell is sort of important to me. Does cauterization effect your ability to smell?

  14. Mary says:

    I had the same silver nitrate cauterization ten days ago and yesterday got the same old nose bleed back. I had daily bleeds the week before the cauterization so I guess this is just the one bleed but Im not feeling partic. hopeful yet. I did not find it hurt me that much, not feeling dizzy or sweaty after or during it but yes I did get a black nostril from the silver nitrate. The doc said if this does not work they will have to do a second causterization but Im not going to. Im scared they will hurt my septum. I think I can live with the bleeds !!

    • Veronica says:

      Mary did your black nostril go away? I had the cauterization done with the silver nitrate and had the same experience as Scott. After the 4th stick I felt the stinging in my nose and my eye started to water. I said to the doctor it hurts now and he did the 5th stick of silver nitrate and stopped. The doctor checked my nose and numb it a little more. I just sat on the chair for a good five minutes after the procedure and got up to head out of the doctor’s office. The numbness began to wear off and the pain began. I bought Tylenol, the nasal saline spray and saline gel. I hope to heal soon and that the nosebleeds are gone for good.

    • Rainey says:

      I am 13 and i have had my nose cauterized MANY times over the years. My nose is most certainly not ruined.

  15. Erica says:

    Two weeks ago I started having random nose bleeds. I suffered with nosebleeds as a child, but haven’t had one since I was a teenager. I went to the ENT today and they did the cauterization procedure using the silver nitrate. He stated I have a blood vessel that has surfaced and burst probably do to a sinus infection. I have been home now for about 3hrs and the numbing stuff has long worn off and I’m in a lot of pain. Right now the pain around my gum and teeth area feel worse than the nose pain. I was advised to pack my nostril with Neosporin 3 times a day for a month and was given some antibiotics to take to make sure all the infection is gone. I’m hoping this pain doesn’t last like this for too many days because I feel awful right now.

  16. Evonne says:

    Thanks for writing this. I’m 16 and have had a nosebleed everyday for the last 2 weeks. It’s not painful or anything, just pretty darn annoying. Not to mention my mom HATES the sight of any blood and teachers are now getting mad that I ask to go to the bathroom twice a week because of my nose. I’m also a mouth breather so maybe I have a “misshapen septum” similar to yours. Anyways, thanks for the info, if this continues I’ll go and see my family doctor and ask about something like a cauterization.

  17. Sue says:

    Thanks for the details of what to expect.

    Had discomfort down to the teeth like many. May need another caut. Nose bleeds each week now, but ENT said bleeding could last up to 3 weeks. Darn it, I want it over with.

    Anyone try the nosebleed kits?

    Mostly want to THANK YOU for the info!

  18. Mary says:

    Veronica in answer to your question and you will have found out by now (!!) yes the black goes away in a few days. It is now two months later and I still get one or two bleeds a week but they are less forceful than before. They are over and done with in five minutes. I might give it six months and go back for Round Two. I didn’t find it as painful as you guys did so… maybe they did not jam the nitrate as forcefully. My doc said 80 percent of people only need this done once. I am apparently in the unlucky 20 percent with a very persistent vein.

  19. tins says:

    was just wondering my dad started having really bad bleeds a week ago hes been in hospital three days and had both sides done when he went in . he still gettin spotting a few times a day but no heavy bleeds so far. does anyone know how long the spotting lasts . thanks

  20. Sue says:

    As he was in hospital, maybe not the typical 3-week window. Hopefully Docs gave him info.

    Anything that seems abnormal or discomforting, phone Doc and make appointment.

    I made that call, got second cauterization, which
    did the trick.

  21. susan says:

    Does anyone know what this “black nostril” is and now soon it shows up? I had the procedure done 6 hours ago and nothing yet. I also read a lot online about having a crusty grey ring in the nostril. When does that develop? Has anyone had spot bleeding after a cauterization but no need for further cauterizing?

    • Matt says:

      Hi Guys,Had it done, yesterday. The black nostril of the side he did it on is still there. Looks like I’ve got a big black “booger”.

    • Brandon says:

      I just had the cauterization done for the third time this morning. Let me explain why it’s three ..

      I’ve had nosebleeds most of my life, but didn’t think much of them. Then one night, I had a nosebleed that was bleeding back into my throat. I’ve had it happen before, so I didn’t think much of it until I realized after an hour, it was still bleeding. Lot’s of blood in the stomach is a bad thing. So I went into the ER – they cauterized the area on the spot with the silver nitrate (or the ‘big match stick’ as I like to call it). They did not provide anything to numb it with. For those unexperienced, it feels like they press a thumbtack into your nasal cavity. It’s a fairly sharp pain, but I wouldn’t say a large amount of pain. The pain does linger for a couple days or so.

      The second time was a couple days later on the opposite nasal passageway as a kind of preventative measure, as I bled out of both sides frequently.

      This was all about 6 months ago. As the Alaskan winter kicked in, the dryness caused my nosebleeds to start again, but just on the right side (the site of the original bleeding). I went into ENT (ears, nose, and throat). He peeked around in my nose and told me that one of the larger vessels in my nose was extremely close to the surface of my skin – almost out by itself, really. So it was extremely sensitive to bleeding. He recommended moistening my nasal passageways with saline spray or vasaline around the nostril.
      At ENT, they did give me some spray to contract and numb the nose, both before and after the cauterization. It seemed to help a little bit, considering ENT cauterized much more then my doc and the ER did.

      As for the ‘black nostril’, I got it the second time I had it done. It left the edge of my nostril fairly sensitive, but it came off in about 4 days like a small scab.

      Hopes this helps someone. Enjoy!

  22. Brandon says:

    Oh, also – be prepared for a runny (mucus) nose and some light spotting after the process. If you end up sneezing (which I did numerous times the day of the procedure), you may notice little ‘burnt’ pieces of skin. Almost looks like cigarette ash. This is all normal. :)

  23. Bloody noses are scary to me. I had the right side of my nose cauterized by a D.O. using the nitrate sticks two days ago. The next day my nose bled five times. I was expecting no more bleeding but was told a scab has to form. I was told no nose blowing, bending at the waist and no lifting. When the cauterization took place I didn’t get sick nor did my nose turn black. I guess it affects different people different ways.

  24. susan says:

    i have heard the spot bleeding is normal when the wound is healing/scabbing. it’s especially noticeable after using a cotton swab for vaseline application. for me, the scab never “fell” out as planned. i think the scab just got smaller with daily nasal irrigation.

  25. Dean says:

    Suffered a minor heart attack Jan 2010 requiring stents and Plavix. This past monday 4/26 as i was leaving a meeting i began bleeding profusely thru the nose and it would not stop. Fist nosebleed i have ever had. Went to the ER that evening and they inserted a “nasal rocket” down each nostril. (looks like a tampon and about 6″ long) NOT a pleasant experience but not painful. This did not stop the bleeding so ENT proceeded with Silver Nitrate. Holy mother of god was I unprepared! there was a sharp pain that subsided after a few seconds, then my eyes started watering… something like I have never experienced before. it was by no means unbearable and I dont want to scare anyone off. Just be read for a very odd procedure.
    Bleeding started again the next day but i convinced myself the cauterization hadnt healed yet and it would get better. It didnt. Went back to the ENT today and again with the Silver Nitrate. A different location and MUCH easier. i barely felt a thing. So far so good.

  26. Alan says:

    I had this procedure done about a week ago now. A terrible bout of flu left me bleeding every other day.

    The cauterization wasn’t too painful at all, in fact it was far more painless than I had anticipated.

    Anyway I’ve been left with a fairly large scab inside my nose that I won’t dare touch in case it messes up the whole procedure.

    Any advice on what to do after the scab has gone? Anything I should avoid doing?

  27. susan says:

    make sure you don’t touch the scab. salin nasal irrigation is important so that the scab does not get too dry/crusty. i’ve found that vasaline should keep the area moist between irrigations.

  28. Patty says:

    So,I’m 15 and I just got my nose cauterized. About an hour ago, actually. And he had to make it bleed for it to work, apparently, so he moved the stick part of the match-looking thing against the vein, and it bled quite a bit, and then he used the actual thingy-majig to do the procedure. It still stings like a bizznitch. Any advice to make the pain go away? Please and thank youuu!

  29. Sue says:

    Patty, I just slept to make the pain diminish. If I slept, I didn’t feel the discomfort. Otherwise, I felt it down to my teeth. Distract yourself with music, tv or telephone or something. I hope that help! If not, are your parents ok with you taking an advil or non-asprin pain reliever to help you out if needed? Shame doc had to make it bleed first. Hope you feel good real soon!

  30. Jan says:

    I had this procedure done two weeks ago. I experienced the pain in the nose and up into the sinus cavity. Within 30 minutes of leaving the doctors office I had the sweating and chilling with an extreme desire to go to sleep. The next morning I noticed the smell of foods made me sick to my stomach. I have lost 15 pounds since having my nose done (which is great) however I can ONLY eat certain foods. Others (things I have eaten all my life) make me feel ill just to smell them.

    Any one else have this experience?

    The follow up visit with the doctor yesterday says he did not do anything to cause this type of reaction.

  31. Paz says:

    I’m sick of washing bloody stains off of my children’s bedsheets and throwing pillows away! I have considered the procedure (my husband had to have it done as a child), but I don’t want my kids to go through the pain you describe. They are still little, the oldest is only 10 (we have 4 kids!) did you say maybe saline sprays would work? Thanks for your post, very informative!!

  32. Paula says:

    I found your site by googling “silver nitrate nasal cauterization”. Awesomeness. :)

    I had U3P surgery (Google that one for kicks!) in 1998 and have had nosebleeds ever since. I’ve had the right side of my nose cauterized 4 times since, but only once since 1999 because I was too scared to go back. I know, I’m brilliant like that.

    Finally, after waking up with blood soaked pillows and sheets, and a stomach full of blood every night, I went to the doctor today and had a MAJOR procedure. After reading the posts here, I feel luckier than most. My doctor really numbed me before doing anyting. The downside? I’m stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey with packing and hate that feeling. My nose is running like crazy and that’s not fun, either. I have the black burn marks around my right nostril which I can deal with. However, I felt something splash during the procedure and thought it was blood. This afternoon when I was looking in the mirror I noticed black burn marks on my forehead and my inner eye! I called the dr. immediately and was told “it will wear off and don’t rub it”. Nice.

    I hope this week goes by quickly because this packing is hideous and I need to go to work all week!

  33. justin says:

    Just had my third bout of cauterization. The first two were not that bad: The ENT did it pretty far back, and I got a terrible stuffy nose. This last bout was much more frontal and has left me with a giant black booger (a blood booger, or a blooger). It has occasionally bled a little bit, and I hope that the blooger slowly dissolves over time.

    One thing people might want to look into if they get frequent nosebleeds is something called Osler Weber Rendu syndrome. My ENT thinks I might have it, and I will be getting tested. Little did I know that silver nitrate cauterization is not suggested for sufferers of Osler Weber Rendu, but laser cauterization is instead.

  34. Michele says:

    Glad to see your post here. I had the right side done a week ago today and at first didn’t seem to bad but by Wednesday I noticed my upper right side of my mouth was hurting. I have to take Advil or something every four to six hours to make the pain stop. Phoned docs office today said they have never heard of pain from your teeth associated with a cauterization. Well I know before i went in my upper right jaw was fine now it hurts. Glad to know I wasn’t going crazy. Anyone, know how long this last?

    • Scott says:

      A week sounds like a long time to me for it to be hurting. That’s surprising to me that your doctor claims to have never heard of associated tooth pain. Good luck and I hope it feels better soon.

  35. Amy says:

    I havent read everyones comments here, but I need some insight. Its seems no doctors or friends or family cant help me with these nosebleeds. I’m 24 years old and have been having frequent nosebleeds since i was 3. Granted there for a few years until i was 15 or so they stopped. Past couple years they have come back and they just dont stop. Every doctor I go to isnt much help at all…I had my right nostril cauterized today because it was bleeding non stop for 5 hours yesterday and 4 today…2 weeks ago I had my left nostril done. There never seems to be a permanent solution for this…the cauterization just pro longes it. They’ve never giving me any kind of tests about it or a reason for why I always get them. Any information from anyone would be great! Thanks!

  36. Cory says:

    Word. I have about 2-3 nosebleeds per day in one nostril, which combined with winter colds, can be fairly unpleasant. I was considering cauterization and found your post, and I really appreciate the insight considering it was difficult to find much relative info. On another note, how noticeable to others was the procedure during recovery (i.e. any occurring symptoms due to the cauterization such as runny nose, swelling, etc.)? I lead quite a social life and would like to know when to deal with those issues, and knowing them would help me schedule it a bit better. Thank you!

  37. Janie says:

    I started having nose bleeds in one nostril about 6 months ago. The bleeding started getting heavier as the months went by to the point of draining into my stomach and making me sick. I went to the doctor two days ago and had the cauterization done with Silver Nitrate. It was very uncomfortable and my nose burned for hours even with the Advil I took every 4 hours. Today my teeth started hurting to the point of tears and nothing seems to help. I’ve noticed a yellow discharge from my nose and throat, not sure if i’m getting a sinus infection or if this is normal. I also have a black stain on the inside and outside of my nose. The scab inside my nose is making it harder to breath. I was told by the doc not to blow my nose but that is impossible not to do. I’m hoping this is successful but if not I will not do this again unless it’s a life or death situation. I’m glad I did not read any of these post prior to having this procedure done or I would never have done it!

  38. Nordic :) says:

    For me, the actual procedure wasn’t too bad, probably because I found the scoping extremely painful. I started running two days after as well. I had a few very minor nosebleeds after the cauterization, but it’s been six months, and besides that, I’ve had nothing! I am a cross-country skier, and after every hard workout or race, I experience extreme pain in my nose. After my last time trial, I checked it out in the mirror, and found that the inside of my nose had no skin in some places. None. So to say the least, the cauterization relieved me of the whole bleeding thing, but the actual problem is still there.

  39. Sam says:

    On Friday, March 16, 2012, I had my left nostril cauterized by means of a Silver Nitrate stick. My ENT doctor examined both nostrils and also made the comment regarding my having a misshaped septum. He also used one of those round head mounted mirrors. He went through the porcedure much like you experienced. He prodded the area of the vein in question, which was up at the bridge of the nose. I told him that is was a little painful, more so than the electric needle method that I had done many years prior, by another ENT doctor for a previous nose bleed. I asked him how long does the pain last before easing off. “Oh, it should clear up in about 15 minutes”, he stated. When I got home the pain continued. It felt like I was hit on the bridge of my nose with a baseball bat. Both my ears were aching badly. I’m 84 years old and have ‘In the ear canal’ hearing aids. It felt like my hearing aids had doubled in size creating a lot of pressure in the ear canal. It hurt so bad that I had to remove the hearing aids. I also had jaw pain on both the upper and lower jaws. My tonsils also felt swollen and irritated. I wear eye glasses that have a very light weight titanium frame, yet they felt heavy and pinching the bridge of the nose like a vise. I phoned the doctor’s office and explained to the receptionist my problem. She put the doctor on. He said I may have been a little more sensitive to the procedure than most people but assured me that it will clear up in 2 to 3 hours. So, 3 days later the ear aches have cleared up and the other pains have slightly eased off but not completley. My nose runs as though I had a bad cold. I also have been taking Tylenol, otherwise I would have not gotten any sleep. I had no bleeding since the cauterization, which is the olny good thing. I‘m not so sure if I would do it again. I think I would try the electric needle first.

  40. Sarah says:

    I had the silver nitrate cauterization treatment today on both my nostrils. After 4 years of going to my GP telling them about my weekly nosebleeds i finally got reffered to a ENT dep. Was only expecting a check up and “come back in a month if its bad still” but instead, the dr took to my nose with a big pair of tweezers (to open up my nostrils) and a light. straight away he saw a very large open blood vessel in my right and the same in my left nostril. then and there he decided to cauterise it at that was 99% the route of the problem.
    he sprayed some numbing spray into both nostrils and told me to pu tmy head forward to catch the numbing spray running out my nose instead of going down my throat. once it was numb i saw him get out, as mentioned, a handful of very large match sticks! i expected him to light them up or something but he soon described to me what they were and what was going to happen. i didnt know what to expect but before i had time to think about it he was up the left nostril going for gold! the sensation wasnt painful, just uncomfortable. you can feel the pressure of something being stuck of your nose but not the burning sensation. the other nostril was the same but it managed to make my eyes water, and im a whimp so i am impressed that it only had that effect on me!
    once this was over and he’d cleaned my nose, disinfected etc, i climbed out the chair and found myself rubbing my two front teeth. with his back to me, unaware of what i was doing my dr asked “do your teeth hurt?” and they did! uncomfortable side effect that effected me for about 8 hours after … tooth ache! he said this was to be expected and the nerves are close to each other or something along them lines.
    its now been 12 hours since the prodecure, i have had clear liquid (can only guess its snot) continuously running from my nose since the procedure. its been unbareable, as im too scared to blow my nose but even trying to clear it brings on more liquid. have literally been through rolls of toilet roll just dabbing my nose dry but the skins become irritated and dry so its a catch 22!?
    i also have found a have slight jaw ache and my cheek bones under my eyes and the bridge of my nose is VERY achey. like a very bad toothache, just all over my face!!

    fingers crossed its better tomorrow ….

    • Sue says:

      Sounds about right. Do your best to just keep dabbing. If you do happen to blow out the scabs, call your ENT who may recommend the clear gel, like Ayr to keep inside nostril moist.You could roll gause and put it at the end of your nos, so it can drip w/o you dabbing. Tape the roll or wad to your face. I keep the ayr, q-tips and gauze as an emergency kit for such instances.

  41. Justin says:

    I had my nose cauterized 15 years ago after chronic nose bleeds for the first 25 years of my life. One of the best things I have ever done. Not a single nose bleed in 15 years since….. until this month. I had a nose bleed 2 weeks ago and 3 this week. Not little ones mind you, 1 hour or more. My Saturday run was 5 miles without a nose bleed and 15 miles with. Having been to the ER twice for 8 hour nose bleeds before cauterization I am not overly alarmed. I will however be going in this week to see the ENT and have it cauterized again. The sooner the better since I have a marathon in 3 weeks.

  42. Marjorie says:

    My 9 year old son has had gushing nosebleeds for 3 days now. This last time, it came out of both nostrils. He used to have nosebleeds quite frequently, but they were never this bad. Just wondering if there is an age requirement for nose cauterization. Also, are you able to swim after nose cauterization. What about fly on an airplane? Any advice on what to do instead of having the cauterization? Thanks.

  43. Canadianpatient says:


    I was having nosebleeds just like you, and the way you explained the cauterization was nearly identical. Unfortunately my story does not end as happy as yours. My right side which had bled for years had progressively grew worse as I got close to my 30th birthday. I chatted with some friends and tried to find a solution. I couldn’t keep living day to day having unexpected nosebleeds that would start unexpectedly and then bleed uncontrollably. So I decided to go in and see what they could do. Well the first treatment went well. Things healed up and for the first time the nosebleeds on my right side of my nose had stopped! Five weeks later after everything seemed to be going well they started on my left side where I never had had a nosebleed. These were far worse than the right side ever was and that’s saying a lot. I went into work one day like any other day and mu nose started bleeding and didn’t stop for nearly an hour. I finally slowed the bleeding and used the good old “stuff it with tissue” trick. So in a moment of desperation, not thinking I should get this checked out with another doctor I went back to the guy who did the first side. I mean this didn’t seem like rocket science and what could possibly go wrong? So I go in on a nice sunny afternoon thinking okay let’s nail this sucker on the left side and go home. The doc sat me down, inspected the left and said, “looks like you have some big vessels on this side that are causing the problem…”.
    “Okay..” I said. And without a moment longer he stuffed me with that numbing ointment. I came back into the room 15 minutes later not thinking this would be it… Well make a long story short 3 weeks later I was doing a light jog to catch my bus, and this booger which had been at it all day was killing me so I plugged the right side and gave a light blow. The booger came out, but the next time I breathed in there was a whispy sound. This sound I had hear before. Like you know when you get a booger in your nose and it makes a sharp sound? Well kind of like that, but my nose breath was much more deflated. I thought nothing of it until I went home and applied some more ointment with a q-tip as I always had. The q-tip hit a rut when I was applying the Polysporin. I began poking around and to my horror the q-tip went through to the other side! I now experience shortness of breath and headaches throughout most of the day. Apparently the hole is so large that it causes a reverse suction effect and the air direction doesn’t circulate as well so it kind of hyperventilates me. On top of this I’ve lost 40% of my smell. Possibly due to the size of the hole and maybe also due to damage to the olfactory bulb. And because my hole is so large it appears there is nothing they can do in Canada… DON’T GET YOUR NOSE CAUTERIZED!!!

  44. Fiore Mills says:

    Hello, Scott. I had something similar happen to me: I’ve had nosebleeds all my life, since I can remember… I even got my nose cauterized when I was like 7 or 8 years old. I remember sneezing like 50 times. I don’t think that one worked. lol But, recently, for about a 5-day period, I’ve been having bleeding that lasts for 10-15 minutes at a time. The first time, on a Friday, I actually thought about going to the hospital. But, I rode it out, I guess. Then, every time I would (gently) blow my nose, it would bleed. I would even bleed in the shower (due to the hot water, I suppose). I think I left my mark in the work bathrooms for 2 days this week… After a futile attempt at shoving TP up my nose, I would just bend over and let it drip into the toilet. It was, I would say, dripping at 4 or 5 drops/second. Then I’d wipe, get a clot, and it would continue… Come Monday and I couldn’t take it any more, so I called my doc. I went in Tuesday morning and he cauterized it. My eyes were tearing and I sneezed a few times, but it was okay… until about lunch time, when I had another 10-minute bleed. I called my doc back and he re-cauterized it. I had a 5-min bleed yesterday morning and, today, nothing (so far). I’m hoping, with today’s technology, for a new, permanent remedy…

  45. Colleen says:

    Thanks for this site… I had both nostrils cauterized today and I had no idea how much this would hurt. Jaws, teeth and of course nose. The pain is miserable. After reading this I realize that its pretty normal. I hope to fell better soon. I have a feeling I will not sleep very well tonite due to discomfort.

  46. Maria says:

    I have a concern that I was hoping someone could explain to me.. My boyfriend (18 years old) has had nosebleeds his entire life, more recently however they started occurring every day and he got really annoyed so he went to get his nose cauterized. Now, though his nose is bleeding worse than before, it’s been bleeding since the day after the cauterization for hours on end out of no where. Before, it was just with the changing of temperatures and activity, now it’s all of the time. Right when he wakes up in the morning it starts and when he’s relaxing or eating, anything really and it bleeds for hours, literally the longest was 5 hours.. I was just hoping someone could explain to me why this would occur.

    • Scott says:

      Maria, it sounds to me like he needs to call his doctor as soon as possible. I think some bleeding is not uncommon after cauterization, but that sure doesn’t sound right.

  47. richy says:

    hi i was wondering if someone could help me. i had my nose cauterized twice since he said this one was more like a touch up.. but i was wondering if anyone has had like spot bleeding after there nose has cauterized and if this is normal yesterday a little bit of this brown stuff came out :/

  48. Bedra. Ogdee says:

    I had two nasal cauterizations in two different places. The first one healed very well. I go back next Thursday with my ent doctor to check the second. I am very very scared to have surgery if it doesn’t heal well. What are my chances that I will have to have surgery. I have been having severe panic attacks. Please help me out. Bedra Ogdee

  49. Sue says:

    I hope you’re over the panic attacks Bedra. Sometimes cauterization has to happen a couple times, maybe even 3 times. Hang in there. Knowledge takes away fear. Ask questions. Knowledge is power. Ask questions. Get answers. Don’t have answers, keep asking. Call Doc’s office for explanation. They’d likely put you through to nurse who may have time to explain if Doc hasn’t already.

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