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First Aid Guide for Nosebleeds

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

Nosebleeds, also known as epistaxis, occur when a small blood vessel in the nose or throat ruptures. The situation can be a scary and upsetting experience for both adults and children. While most cases can be managed easily with at-home remedies, understanding the causes and symptoms of Nosebleeds (NB) can provide valuable insight into this condition and help you decide when professional medical care is needed.

This article will give you an overview of NB along with first-aid-related actions.




Causes of Nosebleeds

Here is the rundown of the causes of Nosebleeds.

Dry air: This is one of the common causes as dryness irritates the thin, fragile tissues of the nasal passages.

Cold and flu: If an individual has a cold or the flu, the inflammation caused by the illnesses can cause the lining of the nose to become dry and fragile, leading to Nosebleeds.

Allergies: If allergies are severe, they can result in swelling and inflammation of the nose and can even cause the nose to become dry, which causes nose bleeding.

High blood pressure: Nosebleeds are a common symptom of high blood pressure, due to the strain high pressure puts on the delicate blood vessels in the nose.

Trauma to the nose: Striking, picking, or inserting objects into the nose, can all lead to bleeding.

Blood-thinning medications: Certain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and certain blood pressure medications can thin the blood and make it more likely to leak from the vessels in the nose. 

Types of Nosebleeds

There are two basic types of Nosebleeds, anterior and posterior.

Anterior nosebleed: This is the most common type of NB and usually results from an injury or irritation to the nose, such as picking the nose, blowing it too hard, or being exposed to dry air. Blood typically flows from the front. 

Posterior nosebleed: This type of NB is more severe, as it normally occurs deep inside the nose. It is caused by high blood pressure or a tumour in the nose. The bleeding usually originates from the back of the nose and can often be difficult to stop. This type of NB usually requires medical attention. 

First aid for Nosebleeds 

Nosebleeds can be frightening, but they are often not dangerous and can be easily treated. The following steps are recommended for first aid treatment of NB.

  1. Stay calm.

  2. Sit down and lean forward. Don’t tilt your head back, as this will cause the blood to flow down your throat. 

  3. Pinch your nostrils together just below the bony ridge of the nose. This should stop the bleeding.

  4. Press firmly but gently against your nostrils for 5-10 minutes.

  5. After 5 minutes, release the pressure for a short amount of time (about 30 seconds) to check if the bleeding has stopped. If it hasn’t, pinch your nostrils together again and hold for an additional 10 minutes.

If the bleeding continues, seek medical attention.

If the bleeding stops, take steps to prevent another nosebleed. Do not blow your nose or engage in strenuous activities. You can use a nasal spray, warm compress, or a humidifier to help keep the inside of your nose moist.

Apply a cold compress to your nose and cheeks to help with pain and swelling.

Avoid bending over or blowing your nose for the first 24 hours after the NB has stopped.

How to prevent Nosebleeds

You can count on any of these measures to get rid of NB.

1. Humidifiers

Humidifiers are devices that add moisture to the air. They can help reduce NB by creating a moist environment in the home, which keeps the nasal passages from becoming dry and irritated.

2. Saline nasal spray

Saline nasal sprays are available without a prescription and can be used to moisten the nasal passages. This can reduce NB by keeping the nasal passages moist and reducing irritation.

3. Avoiding nose-picking

Picking the nose can cause irritation and trauma to the tissues and can increase the risk of NB.

4. Avoiding smoking and secondhand smoke

Smoking, and being exposed to secondhand smoke, can irritate the nasal passages and make you vulnerable to NB.

5. Avoiding medications that cause Nosebleeds

Certain medications, such as aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can increase the risk of Nosebleeds. Talk to your doctor about other treatment options if you are taking these medications and experiencing frequent NB.

When to seek emergency care for Nosebleeds

You should seek emergency care if you have a nosebleed that lasts more than 20 minutes, is accompanied by severe pain or dizziness, or if you are having difficulty breathing. You should also seek emergency care if the NB is accompanied by signs of a serious injury, such as a head injury or trauma to the face. 

Also, if you have excessive bleeding that is not stanched, or the bleeding has begun again a few hours after it stopped, you should see a doctor without any delay. 

If you take blood thinners, it is vital to seek emergency care as soon as possible, as these medications can cause excessive bleeding, which can lead to serious complications. 

Complications of Nosebleeds

Here is the list of complications associated with Nosebleeds.

Infection: NB can allow bacteria and fungi to penetrate the nasal cavity and cause infection.

Scarring: Repeated NB can result in tissue damage to the mucous membranes and lead to scarring.

Anaemia: Chronic NB can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anaemia.

Loss of vision: In some cases, Nosebleeds can cause increased pressure in the head and the bleeding itself can affect eyesight.

Brain damage: Very severe Nosebleeds can cause trauma to the brain and other neurological damage. 

Frequently asked questions

Listed below are some commonly asked questions about Nosebleeds.


Who gets Nosebleeds?

Nosebleeds can happen to anyone. They often affect kids between the ages of 3 and 10, and people over the age of 50. Some medical conditions and medications can also increase the likelihood of NB. Pregnant women may also experience occasional issues. People who take blood thinners have a higher risk of developing this condition.

What are the risk factors for Nosebleeds?

The risk factors for Nosebleeds include allergies, injuries to the nose, frequent nose-picking, high blood pressure, certain medications, dry air, deviated septum, and colds or flu. Other factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and other substances, can also contribute to NB. Prolonged exposure to certain irritants such as cleaning products, hair spray, and second-hand smoke can also increase the risk of Nosebleeds.

Does ice help a Nosebleed?

Yes, ice can help. Applying a cold compress to the bridge of the nose can help reduce the swelling and constrict the blood vessels, reducing the flow of blood. It is vital to apply the cold compress for only 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Prolonged exposure to cold can cause skin damage.

Can dehydration cause Nosebleeds?

Yes, dehydration can cause Nosebleeds. When the body is dehydrated, the linings inside the nostrils become dry and start to crack and bleed. This is especially common during the summer months when the air is dry. Also, dehydration can reduce the body's ability to clot blood, which can increase the risk of NB.

When are Nosebleeds serious?

Nosebleeds are usually not severe, but if they become frequent or last for a long time without stopping, medical attention should be sought. It is also crucial to seek medical attention if the bleeding is accompanied by pain, a feeling of pressure in the head, chest pain, fainting, confusion, or any other symptoms that could indicate a medical condition.

What not to do after a Nosebleed?

It is important to avoid leaning back or blowing the nose after a Nosebleed. These actions can push the blood back up toward the brain, which could cause serious complications. It is also imperative to avoid picking the nose or inserting foreign objects, as this can cause further damage and bleeding. 

Which deficiency causes Nosebleeds?

Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and iron deficiency can cause Nosebleeds.


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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