Nosebleeds

Why Is My Nose Bleeding?

Several things can trigger a nosebleed. The most common cause is dry air, either from having the heat on in winter or being in a hot, low-humidity climate. Other causes include:

  • Picking your nose

  • Blowing your nose too hard often 

  • Injuries caused by a fall or getting hit in your nose

  • Side effects of medication, like blood thinners

  • Allergies

  • High altitudes, where the air is thin

 

How Do I Stop My Nosebleed?

Nosebleeds usually aren’t serious. You can treat most by yourself at home by doing the following:

  • Stay calm. If you start to get nervous, it can actually make you bleed more. Try to relax.
  • Sit up, don’t lie down. Keep your head above your heart.
  • Lean a little bit forward. This keeps the blood from draining down the back of your throat.
  • Pinch your nostrils closed. Use your thumb and index finger to hold your nostrils closed for 5 to 10 minutes while you breathe through your mouth. This puts pressure on the part of your nose that’s bleeding and can make the blood stop flowing.

Once the bleeding has stopped, do not touch or blow your nose. This may start it bleeding again. But if it does restart, gently blow your nose to get rid of any blood clots. You can also spray a decongestant such as oxymetazoline (AfrinMucinex, or Vicks Sinex) in both nostrils. Then pinch your nostrils shut and breathe through your mouth for 5 to 10 minutes.

Call your doctor if:

  • You fell or hit your nose on something

  • You get nosebleeds often

  • Your nosebleed lasts longer than 20 minutes even after you put pressure on it

If your doctor can’t get your nosebleed to stop with pressure, they might try:

Cauterization.This procedure burns a blood vessel closed. After your doctor numbs your nose, they’ll use either a heated electronic device (an electrocautery) or a chemical called silver nitrate to close the leaky blood vessel.

Packing. Your doctor puts a latex balloon or gauze into your nostril. This puts a lot of pressure on a blood vessel until it closes.

 

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How to Prevent Nosebleeds

You can’t always prevent nosebleeds from happening, but there are certain things you can do to help lower your chances of getting them:

  • Keep the inside of your nose moist. Dryness can cause nosebleeds. Use a cotton swab to gently smear a thin layer petroleum jelly in your nostrils three times a day, including before you go to sleep. You can also use an antibiotic ointment like Bacitracin or Polysporin.
  • Use a saline nasal product. Spraying it in your nostrils helps keep the inside of your nose moist.
  • Use a humidifier. Your nostrils might be dry because the air in your house is dry.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can irritate the inside of your nose and dry it out.
  • Don’t pick your nose. Also, don’t blow or rub it too hard. If your child is getting nosebleeds, keep their fingernails short and discourage them from picking their nose.
  • Don’t use cold and allergy medications too often. These can dry out your nose. In some cases, certain medications can cause nosebleeds or make them worse. You may need to discuss your medications with your doctor. But keep taking them unless your doctor tells you to stop.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on July 07, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Otolaryngology: “Nosebleeds.” 

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Nosebleeds.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Nosebleed (Epistaxis).”

 
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