Skip to content

First Aid & Emergencies

Font Size

Nosebleeds - Topic Overview

Most nosebleeds are not usually serious and can be stopped with home treatment. Most nosebleeds occur in the front of the nose (anterior epistaxis) and involve only one nostril. Some blood may drain down the back of the nose into the throat. Many things may make a nosebleed more likely.

  • Changes in the environment. For example:
    • Cold, dry climates; low humidity
    • High altitude
    • Chemical fumes
    • Smoke
  • Injury to the nose. For example:
    • Hitting or bumping the nose
    • Blowing or picking the nose
    • Piercing the nose
    • An object in the nose. This is more common in children, who may put things up their noses, but may be found in adults, especially after an automobile accident, when a piece of glass may have entered the nose.
  • Medical problems. For example:
    • An abnormal structure inside the nose, such as nasal polyps or a deviated nasal septum camera.gif
    • Colds, allergies, or sinus infections
    • High blood pressure
    • Kidney disease
    • Liver disease
    • Blood clotting disorders, such as hemophilia, leukemia, thrombocytopenia, or von Willebrand's disease
    • Abnormal blood vessels in the nose, such as with Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome. This syndrome is passed in families (inherited). The abnormal blood vessels make it hard to control a nosebleed.
  • Medicines. For example:
    • Those that affect blood clotting, such as aspirin, warfarin (such as Coumadin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), clopidogrel (Plavix), or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
    • Cold and allergy medicines
    • Oxygen
    • Nasal inhalers, such as Afrin
    • Steroid nasal sprays
  • Nasal abuse of illegal drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines

A less common but more serious type of nosebleed starts in the back of the nose (posterior epistaxis) and often involves both nostrils. Large amounts of blood may run down the back of the throat. Posterior epistaxis occurs more often in older adults because of other health conditions they may have. Medical treatment will be needed to control the bleeding from posterior epistaxis.

Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 25, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Antibiotic on hand
    Slideshow
    3d scan of fractured skull
    Slideshow
     
    Father putting ointment on boy's face
    Slideshow
    Person taking food from oven
    Q&A
     
    sniffling child
    Slideshow
    wound care true or false
    Slideshow
     
    caring for wounds
    Slideshow
    Harvest mite
    Slideshow
     

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    WebMD the app

    Get first aid information. Whenever. Wherever... with your iPhone, iPad or Android.

    Find Out More