Nosebleeds are common. Most often they are a nuisance and not a true medical problem. But they can be both. Why do they start, and how can they be stopped?

Among children and young adults, nosebleeds usually originate from the septum, just inside the nose. The septum separates your nasal chambers.

In middle aged and older adults, nosebleeds can begin from the septum, but they may also begin deeper in the nose's interior. This latter form of nosebleed is much less common. It may be caused by hardened arteries or high blood pressure. These nosebleeds begin spontaneously and are often difficult to stop. They require a specialist's help.

To take care of a nosebleed:

Sit upright.
By remaining upright, you reduce blood pressure in the veins of your nose. This discourages further bleeding.

Pinch your nose.
Use your thumb and index finger and breathe through your mouth. Continue the pinch for five to 10 minutes. This maneuver sends pressure to the bleeding point on the nasal septum and often stops the flow of blood.

To prevent rebleeding after bleeding has stopped:
Don't pick or blow your nose and don't bend down until several hours after the bleeding episode. Keep your head higher than the level of your heart.

If rebleeding occurs:
Sniff in forcefully to clear your nose of blood clots, spray both sides of your nose with a decongestant nasal spray containing oxymetazoline (Afrin, Dristan, others). Pinch your nose again in the technique described above and call your doctor.

Seek medical care immediately if:

  • The bleeding lasts for more than 20 minutes
  • The nosebleed follows an accident, a fall or an injury to your head, including a punch in the face that may have broken your nose

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