Nosebleed

Nosebleeds can be frightening, but they aren't usually a sign of anything serious. They can often be treated at home. During a nosebleed, blood flows from one or both nostrils. It can be heavy or light and last from a few seconds to 10 minutes or more.

What to do 

Ways to help stop a nosebleed include:

  • sit down and firmly pinch the soft part of your nose, just above your nostrils, for at least 10 to 15 minutes
  • lean forward and breathe through your mouth – this will drain blood down your nose instead of down the back of your throat
  • place an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables covered by a towel on the bridge of your nose (this aims to use the coldness to reduce blood flow) - do not stop pinching the nose, as this works better
  • stay upright, rather than lying down, as this reduces the blood pressure in the blood vessels of your nose and will discourage further bleeding

If the bleeding stops within 15 minutes, you won't usually need to seek medical advice. In some cases you may need further treatment from your GP or in hospital (see below).

When your nosebleed stops 

After a nosebleed has stopped, try not to do the following for 24 hours:

  • blow your nose
  • pick your nose
  • drink hot drinks or alcohol
  • do any heavy lifting or strenuous exercise
  • lying flat (if possible)

Also, don’t pick any scabs that form (they help it to heal and prevent infection).

After 24 hours, there are other things you can consider, such as wearing a head guard during activities in which your nose or head could get injured.

Also, always follow the instructions that come with nasal decongestants – overusing these can cause nosebleeds (ask your pharmacist if you need advice).

When to seek medical advice 

Contact your GP or call GP out of hours service  if:

  • you're taking a blood-thinning medicine (anticoagulant) such as warfarin or have a clotting disorder such as haemophilia and the bleeding doesn't stop
  • you have symptoms of anaemia such as heart palpitationsshortness of breath and a pale complexion
  • a child under two years of age has a nosebleed
  • you have nosebleeds that come and go regularly

Ask someone to drive you to your nearest emergency department or call 999 for an ambulance if:

  • the bleeding continues for longer than 15 minutes
  • the bleeding is heavy and you've lost a lot of blood
  • you're having difficulty breathing
  • you swallow a large amount of blood that makes you vomit
  • the nosebleed developed after a serious injury, such as a car accident

Talk to your GP if you have nosebleeds often and aren't able to prevent them. They may refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist for an assessment.

Medical treatment 

If you see your GP or go to hospital with a nosebleed, you will be assessed to find out how serious your condition is and what's caused it.

The two main treatments a hospital doctor may use to stop your nose bleeding are cautery and nasal packing.

Cautery

If doctors can see where the blood is coming from they may seal it by applying a stick with a special chemical on it to stop the bleeding.

Nasal packing

If cautery isn’t possible, doctors might pack your nose with special sponges to stop the bleeding. You may need to stay in hospital for a day or two for this.

Causes of nosebleeds  

The inside of your nose is full of tiny, delicate blood vessels that can become damaged and bleed quite easily.

Causes of nosebleeds include:

  • trauma - picking your nose, blowing your nose very hard, a minor injury to your nose, having an object inserted in the nose
  • inflammation — for example infection (sinusitis) and hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  • topical drugs —decongestants, corticosteroids or drug use such as cocaine
  • oral drugs - drugs used to ‘thin’ the blood - anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs
  • problems with the blood vessel walls (caused by inherited conditions or problems with the immune system)
  • bleeding following a surgical operation
  • tumours — benign (cancerous) and malignant (cancer) - older people are more likely to have nosebleeds associated with cancer
  • nasal oxygen therapy — causes drying of the membranes in the nose, causing bleeding
  • bleeding disorders - conditions that ‘thin’ the blood, making it difficult to form clots
  • environmental factors — temperature, humidity, and altitude
  • excessive alcohol intake

Occasionally, bleeding can come from the blood vessels deeper within the nose. This can be caused by a blow to the head, recent nasal surgery or hardened arteries (atherosclerosis (arteriosclerosis).

People who  commonly get nosebleeds

Nosebleeds are fairly common. Most people will experience them every now and again. Anyone can get a nosebleed, but they most often affect:

  • children between two and 10 years of age
  • adults over 45 years of age
  • pregnant women - the increase in hormones affects the blood vessels and can change circulation
  • people who regularly take aspirin or anticoagulants, such as warfarin
  • people with blood clotting disorders, such as haemophilia

Bleeding may also be heavier or last longer if you take anticoagulants, have a blood clotting disorder, or have high blood pressure (hypertension).

 

The information on this page has been adapted from original content from the NHS website.

For further information see terms and conditions.

Health conditions A to Z

Search by health condition or symptoms

Or find conditions beginning with …

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.