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Updated 25 July 2012

Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds are common, and can usually be treated at home.

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Summary

  • Nosebleeds are common, and can usually be treated at home.
  • Most nosebleeds can be stopped by firm pressure applied below the nose bridge.
  • See a doctor if the nosebleed cannot be controlled or may be associated with other medical problems.

What causes nosebleeds?

Nosebleeds are common, especially in winter, when dry indoor air dries out the mucous membranes. They can usually be treated successfully at home. Common causes include nose-picking and forceful nose-blowing, a dry climate, colds and allergies, injuries to the nose, and high altitude.

First aid for nosebleeds

To stop a nosebleed: Sit and lean forwards to prevent blood from running down your throat. Firmly pinch the soft part of your nose, just below the bridge, for five minutes while breathing through the mouth. If bleeding does not stop, hold the position for a further 10 minutes.

Try not to blow or pick your nose for 24 hours afterwards. If you feel the need to sneeze, do so with your mouth open. Sleep with your head elevated and avoid exercise for a day after the nosebleed.



When to see a doctor

See a doctor if you have a nosebleed and:

  • Bleeding cannot be controlled or is the result of a head injury
  • You feel faint or weak
  • Nosebleeds happen frequently (especially in children)
  • You are taking blood-thinning medication or you bruise easily.

Prevention of nosebleeds

To help prevent nosebleeds

  • Use a humidifier.
  • Rub Vaseline inside your nostrils a few times a day. Saline nose drops are also useful.

Last updated: July 2009

 
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