Nosebleeds can sometimes look dramatic and may be quite frightening. Luckily, most nosebleeds are not serious and can be handled fairly easily. Nose bleeding occurs when the small blood vessels inside the nose break. This can be caused by factors such as heat, dry air, changes in altitude, a bang or knock to the nose, excessive blowing or picking the nose or sticking objects inside the nose (commonly seen with children). People may be more susceptible to a bloody nose if they take medications that prevent normal blood clotting (warfarin, aspirin or anti-inflammatory medication). A medical professional may refer to a nosebleed as epistaxis.
Myth: Common misconceptions for treating a nosebleed are; Tilting the head back, pinching the boney bridge of the nose, putting cold water or cold pack on the back of the neck, packing cotton wool or tissue inside the nose. We also hear about placing a coin on the forehead and raising their arms above the head, to stop nose bleeding.
The correct management to stop a nosebleed:
- Remain calm.
- Sit up straight.
- Lean your head forward - tilting your head back to ward off a bloody nose might stop it from running out of a nostril, but it sends the blood down the throat and into the stomach where it can cause vomiting.
- Pinch the fleshy part of the nose with the thumb and forefinger. After ten minutes, release the pressure and see if the bleeding has stopped. If it hasn’t, pinch the nose closed for another ten minutes, until the bleeding stops.
Spit out any blood in your mouth. Swallowing it may make you feel sick and vomit.
Don’t put anything inside the nose unless advised by a medical professional, as this could cause more damage!
If the bleeding does not begin to slow down and has not stopped after 15 minutes, then seek medical advice.
Seek medical advice or call 999 for a nosebleed if:
- You are still bleeding after pinching the nose for 15 minutes.
- You are having repeated episodes of nosebleeds over a short time.
- You feel dizzy or light-headed or like you are going to pass out.
- You have a rapid heartbeat or trouble breathing.
- You are coughing up or vomiting blood.
- You have a rash or temperature greater than 38.5'C (101.4'F).
- Your doctor instructs you to go to a hospital’s emergency department.