Nosebleeds: Causes, Prevention Tips, And When To See A Doctor


Nosebleeds, also known as epistaxis, are very common. Almost 60% of people will experience a nosebleed in their lifetime. While they can be alarming, most nosebleeds are not serious and can be easily managed with some simple first-aid techniques and home treatments.

Understanding the causes, symptoms, and precautionary measures for nosebleeds allows you to handle them properly and prevent recurrence.

What Do You Mean By Nosebleeds?

A nosebleed refers to bleeding from one or both nostrils. The medical term for nosebleeds is epistaxis. Nosebleeds occur when one of the blood vessels in the nasal lining ruptures and bleeds.


The blood usually comes from one nostril but can sometimes come from both. Bleeding can range from a small leak to a heavier flow. 

Symptoms Of Nosebleeds

The main symptom is blood flowing out from one or both nostrils. Other symptoms that may accompany a nosebleed include:

– Steady flow of bright red blood from the nose

– Blood draining down the back of the nose into the throat

– Nausea or vomiting after swallowing blood

– Lightheadedness from blood loss

– Nasal stuffiness after the bleeding stops

– Crusting around the nostrils once bleeding ceases

Causes Of Nosebleeds

There are several factors that can contribute to the rupturing of a nasal blood vessel and cause a nosebleed:

– Dry nasal passages from dry indoor air, allergies, medications, or cocaine use

– Picking the nose aggressively

– Blowing the nose forcefully

– Trauma such as a hit or blow to the nose 

– Vigorous nose rubbing

– Nasal infections like sinusitis or rhinitis

– Foreign objects stuck in the nose

– Nasal polyps or tumors

– Blood thinning medications

– Blood disorders like hemophilia

– High blood pressure

– Vitamin K deficiency

Health Tips For Nose Bleeding

If you experience frequent or severe nosebleeds, try these self-care tips to manage symptoms:

  • Stay calm and sit upright to reduce blood flow to the head. Tilt your head forward not backward.
  • Firmly pinch the soft part of the nose shut for 10 full minutes without releasing. This applies pressure to blood vessels and helps control bleeding.
  • Apply an ice pack or cold compress to the bridge of the nose to constrict blood vessels.
  • Moisten nasal passages using a saline spray or gel. Humidify indoor air.
  • Avoid nose picking and vigorous blowing or rubbing. Be very gentle when handling your nose.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen to ease discomfort.
  • Use medicated nasal sprays or gels containing anti-inflammatory drugs to heal nasal tissue.
  • Avoid strenuous activity right after a nosebleed to prevent restarting. Rest with the head elevated on pillows.

Nose Bleeding Precautions – When To See A Doctor?

  • Take these precautions when experiencing recurring or prolonged nosebleeds:
  • See a doctor if bleeding lasts longer than 20 minutes or happens frequently.
  • Seek emergency care if bleeding is rapid, uncontrollable, or accompanied by dizziness, trouble breathing, or head injury. 
  • Monitor children closely and seek prompt medical care if nosebleeds are recurrent.
  • Record when nosebleeds occur and note any preceding activities or irritants.
  • Keep the nasal passage moisturized year-round if you get frequent drying and crusting.
  • Avoid blood thinners like aspirin, ibuprofen, vitamin E, and fish oil supplements.
  • Wear protective gear during sports or risky activities to prevent trauma to the nose.
  • Get blood tests done to check for underlying bleeding disorders or deficiencies.


Nosebleeds are unpleasant but rarely indicative of major illness. Still, frequent or heavy nosebleeds should be evaluated by a doctor. Using first aid techniques like pinching the nose, applying cold compresses, moisturizing the nasal passages, and avoiding irritants can usually stop a nosebleed quickly.

Take precautions year-round if you experience recurring nosebleeds. Proper handling of nosebleeds reduces complications and helps prevent future episodes.


1. What is the best head position during a nosebleed?

Keep the head tilted slightly forward. Leaning backward can cause blood to flow down the throat. 

2. How long should you pinch the nose to stop a nosebleed?

Pinch the soft lower part of the nose continuously for at least 10 full minutes without letting go. This applies needed pressure.

3. When should you call a doctor about recurring nosebleeds?

Seek medical advice if you get frequent nosebleeds, more than once a week, or if bleeding is heavy or lasts longer than 20 minutes.

4. Are nosebleeds ever life-threatening?

Very rarely. Only if bleeding is excessive and unable to be stopped, causing severe blood loss and dangerously low blood pressure.

5. Can frequent nose picking cause nosebleeds?  

Yes, excessively picking the nasal lining can damage blood vessels and cause frequent nosebleeds. Try to break the habit.

Dr. Jun Ren is a dedicated and experienced registered dietitian and nutritionist who is committed to helping people achieve their health goals through personalized nutrition plans. With a passion for promoting healthy eating habits and preventing chronic diseases, Dr. Ren has been able to assist numerous clients in improving their overall quality of life.

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