Leaflet: Nosebleeds

 

Coping with nosebleeds

This information is designed to help you cope with any nasal bleeding you may suffer and to suggest ways that may help prevent further episodes.

Why have I had a nosebleed?

Often the cause is unknown. However, some causes can include:

• High blood pressure

• Picking your nose

• Recent colds resulting in strong nose blowing

• Recent sinus or nasal surgery

• Anti-coagulation therapy

Where does the bleeding come from?

The nose has a rich blood supply. Blood capillaries all converge in the nasal septum (the thin piece of cartilage separating the nostrils). The area of the septum which contains all these blood vessels is known as the Little’s area.

Most nosebleeds arise from this point and can be stopped by applying pressure.

What are the first aid procedures to stop the bleeding?

It is important to remain calm.

1. If you are alone, summon help if possible.

2. Sit upright with your head slightly forward. Breathe through your mouth.

3. Apply firm pressure with the thumb and forefinger to the soft fleshy part of the nose under the bridge.  You will need to do this for approximately 10-15 minutes.  Do not feel tempted to let go sooner, as all the good work done by the compression may be undone by curiosity to see if the bleeding has stopped.

4. Ice packs can be applied to the forehead or bridge of the nose (a packet of frozen peas or similar makes a good ice pack). Sucking a small piece of ice can also assist in stopping the bleeding.

5. If you feel that blood is trickling down the back of your throat, try not to swallow it, as blood can irritate the stomach and cause nausea and vomiting. Try to spit the blood out.

6. It may be helpful to measure the amount of blood loss. We realise that this is difficult, but try to catch any blood in a bowl.

What happens if I cannot stop the bleeding myself?

• If after 10-15 minutes the bleeding continues  or gets worse, medical help is needed. You are advised to attend the accident and emergency department of your nearest hospital or call an ambulance.

• Do not panic! The reason you need to get to hospital is so that the professionals can stop the bleeding for you. Sometimes very severe  nosebleeds may make you feel faint or dizzy, so make sure you are sitting down. (Standing up may lower an already low blood pressure.)

What to do after your nosebleed has stopped?

• Do not drink very hot fluids for 24 hours. This can cause the blood vessels to dilate, which can lead to bleeding.

• If you smoke, try to give up or at least cut down. Smoking can irritate the sensitive nasal mucosa, leading to bleeding.

• Avoid blowing your nose for a couple of days to allow the healing area inside the nose to settle down.

• If you feel as if you are going to sneeze, cover your mouth and sneeze through your mouth. Do not try to hold back a sneeze, as this may cause a build up of pressure in your nose which can cause bleeding in the healing area.

• Avoid constipation and straining when going to the toilet, as again this increases the pressure inside your nose. Lots of fibre in your diet may help.

• Avoid vigorous exercise, heavy lifting and bending over for a week after a nosebleed.

Call 111 if you urgently need medical help or advice but it’s not a life-threatening situation.

For less urgent health needs, contact your GP or local pharmacist in the usual way.

 

Visit the Minor Injuries Unit webpage for more information about this service.

Date of creation: April 2019
Date of review: April 2021
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