Nosebleeds are very common. Most of the time, a nosebleed is caused by irritation to the membranes lining the inside of your nose.
There are two kinds of nosebleeds.
- Anterior nosebleeds are from the front part of your nose. The inside of your nose contains many tiny blood vessels that can break easily. Dry, hot air can cause the membranes inside your nose to dry out and crack, which will cause a nosebleed. Anterior nosebleeds can also start if your nose gets bumped hard, or if you scratch the inside of your nose.
- Posterior nosebleeds come from higher up in the nose. With this kind of nosebleed, the blood will flow down the back of your throat, even if you are standing or sitting up. Posterior nosebleeds are less common. People with posterior nosebleeds usually need to see a doctor to stop the bleeding.
Some people get nosebleeds more often than others. Recurring nosebleeds are caused by:
- Allergies or infections that lead to itching or picking of the nose
- Dry air
- Smoking, which dries out and irritates the nose
- Blowing your nose too hard
- Clotting disorders
- Certain medications
- Hereditary conditions
Nosebleeds that start after a head injury can be a sign of serious injury. Call a doctor if your nose starts bleeding after an injury to the head.
If you get a nosebleed:
- Sit down and lean forward so the blood doesn’t run down your throat.
- Gently squeeze your nostrils closed for 5 minutes.
- Put a cold pack or ice across the bridge of your nose, if you can.
- Check to see if bleeding has stopped.
- Very gently blow any clotted blood out of your nose.
- If your nose is still bleeding, use a nasal spray decongestant. This can sometimes close off small blood vessels and help control bleeding.
- Squeeze your nostrils shut for another 10 minutes.
If your nosebleed started after a head injury, or if it is still bleeding after 30 minutes, call a doctor.
To prevent nosebleeds:
- Use a cotton swab to apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly or an antibiotic ointment three times a day. This will help keep the lining of your nose from drying out.
- Use a humidifier when the air is dry.
- Use a saline nasal spray as needed.
- Don’t pick your nose.
- Don’t smoke.
- Don’t strain or bend down to lift anything heavy for several hours after you’ve had a nosebleed.
Rex ENT Specialists can help you prevent and manage recurring nosebleeds. Dr. John A. Garside, M.D., specializes in treating ear, nose and throat disorders in adults and children.
To learn more about nosebleeds, visit the American Academy of Otolaryngology.