A nosebleed, known medically as epistaxis, is a common problem in children as well as the elderly. It is a condition in which blood starts flowing suddenly and freely from the nose, usually from one nostril.

Most cases of nosebleeds are not a cause for worry and stop by themselves in a few minutes. However, some cases may need medical attention. Let’s find out more about its causes and treatment. 

What Causes a Nosebleed?

There can be various causes of nosebleeds, including:

  • Dry air.

  • Nose picking.

  • Blowing your nose with force.

  • Inserting an object into your nose.

  • Health issues such as respiratory infections and sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses) leading to a blocked or stuffy nose.

  • Physical trauma due to injuries or a fall. 

  • Side effects of medications such as blood thinners.

  • Chemical irritants.

  • Frequent use of nasal sprays and medications to treat a runny or stuffy nose.

  • Allergies.

  • High altitudes with thin air.

How to Stop a Nosebleed

Do not panic when your nose starts to bleed. Follow these steps:

1. Sit upright. Sit on a chair and lean forward. Avoid lying down as this may make the blood trickle to the back of your throat and cause choking. The blood can also trickle into your stomach and cause nausea and retching. 

2. Do not pack up your nose. Use a tissue or a damp cloth to catch the blood coming out of your nose. However, do not stick cotton pads or tissues up your nose as it does not stop the bleeding. It can irritate the blood vessels further and worsen the bleeding. 

3. Pinch your nostrils. Use your thumb and index finger to pinch and apply pressure on your nostrils for 10 to 15 minutes. This is usually enough to stop the bleeding. 

4. Apply ice. Apply an ice pack or ice cubes wrapped in a towel gently to the bridge of your nose. This may help constrict the blood vessels and slow down the bleeding. This is an optional step. 

5. Observe and repeat. Check your nose after pinching it for 10 minutes. If it is still bleeding, pinch and apply gentle pressure on your nose for 10 more minutes before checking again. 

Once the bleeding has stopped, do not touch your nose or blow your nose for 2 days as this may start the bleeding again.

Recurrent nosebleeds or a single nosebleed in which a significant amount of blood has been lost should not be ignored. Also if your nosebleed continues for longer than 20 minutes, consult your nearest ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist immediately for an evaluation.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.