Alternative names: Bleeding from the nose; Epistaxis.
Most people have suffered from nosebleeds at some time, and they can be alarming. Nosebleeds are usually just an annoyance, but concerns are raised when they become frequent.
Nosebleeds are usually caused by very cold or dry air (your nasal membranes dry out and are more easily damaged), nose-picking, minor irritation or colds. In temperate climates, nosebleeds occur more frequently in the winter when viruses are common and heated indoor air dries out the nostrils.
Nosebleeds can also be caused by the following:
... and less commonly by:
Nosebleeds usually occur on at the bottom of the tissue that separates the two sides of the nose (the nasal septum.) The septum contains many small and easily-damaged blood vessels. These nosebleeds can be easily stopped; a nosebleed that occurs higher on the septum or deeper in the nose may be harder to control.
Self-treatment is relatively simple: Sit down and gently squeeze the bottom of the nose between your thumb and finger to close the nostrils. Lean forward to avoid swallowing the blood, breathing through your mouth. Wait at least 10 minutes before checking if the bleeding has stopped.
NOTE: Do not pack the inside of the nose with gauze, tissue or anything else. When this material is removed from the nose, it will most likely pull the clotted blood from the surface of the nose and cause bleeding to resume.
Lying down with a nosebleed is also not recommended. Avoid sniffing or blowing your nose for several hours after a nosebleed.
Maintaining humidity in the air (perhaps by using a vaporizer or humidifier), as well as nasal saline spray and/or a water-soluble jelly can help prevent nosebleeds, especially during the winter months.
Nosebleeds can be frightening, but they are rarely life-threatening.
Seek medical attention if nosebleeds involve large quantities of blood, last longer than 20 minutes, obstruct breathing or happen an injury. Nose bleeding that occurs after an injury to the head may suggest a skull fracture and X-rays should be taken immediately.
It is a common misconception that nosebleeds are often caused by high blood pressure. Though a high intracapillary pressure may slightly increase risk, it is not a significant cause.
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