Nosebleeds occur when the tiny and fragile blood vessels in your nose break or rupture and bleed. Although nose bleeds can appear scary, they are usually not serious. If the bleeds are frequent or heavy, this may be serious and need the attention of your healthcare giver. People who live in dry climates or environments (like Northern Nigeria) tend to develop nosebleeds more often.
The bleeding can mostly be stopped by leaning forward and pinching your nose at the soft part together for 5 – 15 minutes. This will apply enough pressure for the bleeding to stop. If the bleeding does not stop, you should go to your healthcare provider.
Your nose can bleed from the tiny blood vessels in front of your nose or the larger ones in the back of the nose (which is more serious). Some important causes of nosebleed include:
- Living in a dry environment for a long time can cause the nasal membranes to dry out and become itchy. On scratching or picking your nose, the membranes can then cause a nose bleed.
- Receiving a punch to the nose can cause the blood vessels in the nose to burst. The same can happen if something is stuck in your nose.
- Excessive nose picking can irritate the nasal membranes and cause nose bleeding.
- Certain medications like cold and catarrh medicines can also cause the membranes to dry out and cause nose bleeds.
- Blowing your nose too hard or sneezing can cause the blood vessels in the nose to burst and bleed.
- Blood thinners such as aspirin increase the risk of bleeding in the body and can cause nose bleeds.
Go to a healthcare provider immediately if:
- Your nosebleed does not stop after 15-20 minutes of pinching your nose and applying pressure to it.
- Your nosebleed is a result of a serious injury like an accident or fall.
Most nosebleeds cannot be prevented, but you can reduce the risk of nosebleeds by being careful with your nose (e.g. no excessive picking, carefully blowing your nose). If you are prone to nosebleeds, your healthcare provider can recommend a medical procedure that will reduce the likelihood of nosebleeds.
- Lean forward and pinch the soft part of your nose together for 5 - 15 minutes. This will apply enough pressure for the bleeding to stop.
- Use clean tissue paper to catch the dripping blood.
- Avoid lying down when you have a nosebleed to keep blood from draining into your throat.
- You can apply an ice pack wrapped in a piece of cloth to your nose to stop the bleeding.
- Try not to pick your nose.
- Use fans that have humidifiers to keep the air in your home moist.
- Your doctor will check if something that is stuck in your nose is causing the bleeding and will remove it.
- Your healthcare provider may pack your nose with gauze or other dressing materials to allow a clot to form.
- Your healthcare provider may reduce your blood thinner medicine if this is the cause of the nosebleed.
- If the bleeding is severe, your healthcare provider may perform surgery to stop the bleeding.
Nosebleeds are not usually a cause for concern as they will go away by themselves. However, a serious nosebleed needs more professional care, and you will need to see a healthcare provider.
The discomfort and pain usually pass quickly as well. Try not to blow your nose or pick it for at least a week after a nosebleed as this can open the blood vessel again, causing more bleeding.