Some people get them regularly, some people only get them if they take a baseball to the face.
Regardless of the source, nosebleeds are never fun and are never welcome.
Most nosebleeds occur in the front of the nose and involve only one nostril. Some blood may drain down the back of the nose into the throat. These nosebleeds typically are not serious, and you can generally treat them yourself at home.
A less common but more serious type of nosebleed starts in the back of the nose and often involves both nostrils. Large amounts of blood may run down the back of the throat. This type of nosebleed may occur more frequently in older adults because of health conditions they may have. You will need treatment from a doctor to control bleeding from this type of nosebleed.
It’s probably your natural instinct to tilt your head back when you have a nosebleed. But not only is that method useless—it can be dangerous, experts say.
That’s because the blood will run down the back of your throat, where it can wreak havoc on your body, says Jeffrey Suh, M.D., a professor of head and neck surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles.
If enough of the spillage makes it to your stomach, it can make you vomit, Dr. Suh says.
There’s also a chance that the blood winds up in your airways, adds Jennifer Villwock, M.D., an ear, nose, and throat surgeon at the State University of New York’s Upstate Medical University. In very rare cases, that can choke you or cause pneumonia, since the blood could be contaminated with bacteria from your throat.
Follow these steps to stop a nosebleed:
Sit up straight and tip your head slightly forward.
Note: Do not tilt your head back. This may cause blood to run down the back of your throat, and you may swallow it. Swallowed blood can irritate your stomach and cause vomiting. And vomiting may make the bleeding worse or cause it to start again. Spit out any blood that gathers in your mouth and throat rather than swallowing it.
Use your thumb and forefinger to firmly pinch the soft part of your nose shut. The nose consists of a hard, bony part and a softer part made of cartilage. Nosebleeds usually occur in the soft part of the nose. Spraying the nose with a medicated nasal spray (such as Afrin) before applying pressure may help stop a nosebleed. You will have to breathe through your mouth.
Apply an ice pack to your nose and cheeks. Cold will constrict the blood vessels and help stop the bleeding.
Keep pinching for a full 10 minutes. Use a clock to time the 10 minutes. It can seem like a long time. Resist the urge to peek after a few minutes to see if your nose has stopped bleeding.
Check to see if your nose is still bleeding after 10 minutes. If it is, hold it for 10 more minutes. Most nosebleeds will stop after 10 to 20 minutes of direct pressure.
Put a light coating of a moisturizing ointment (such as Vaseline) or an antiseptic nasal cream inside your nose. Do not blow your nose or put anything else inside your nose for at least 12 hours after the bleeding has stopped.
Rest quietly for a few hours.
After you have stopped a nosebleed, the following tips may prevent a nosebleed from happening again:
Avoid forceful nose-blowing.
Do not pick your nose.
Avoid lifting or straining after a nosebleed.
Elevate your head on pillows while sleeping.
Put a light coating of a moisturizing ointment (such as Vaseline) or an antiseptic nasal cream inside your nose.
Do not use aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen for 3 to 4 days. Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, may be used to relieve pain. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Talk to your doctor about stopping any medicines you are currently taking.
Do not use nonprescription antihistamines, decongestants, or medicated nasal sprays.
Nosebleeds may develop in people who have colds or chronic hay fever symptoms (postnasal drip, sneezing, or a runny, stuffy, or itchy nose) because nasal tissues become inflamed and irritated. Using medicines may relieve the symptoms, leading to less inflammation and irritation and fewer nosebleeds. But overuse of allergy medicines may lead to nosebleeds because of their overdrying side effects. If you have a lot of nosebleeds, talk to your doctor about it.