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Leaflet: Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds are common and usually occur spontaneously. The most common cause of bleeding is when nasal membranes dry out and they crack. This occurs in dry climates, or during winter months when central heating makes the air dry and warm.

People taking medications such a Warfarin, Aspirin, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which prevent normal blood clotting are more susceptible to bleeding.

In this situation, even a minor trauma couldresult in significant bleeding, Other causes of nose bleeds are:

  • Infection
  • Trauma, including self-induced nose picking
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Less common causes include tumours and inherited bleeding problems.

Dial 999 if,

  1. You cannot stop the bleeding
  2. Blood loss is large
  3. You feel faint or weak

Call 111 if you urgently need medical help or advice but it’s not a lifethreatening situation.

For less urgent health needs, contact your GP or local pharmacist in the usual way.

What are the first aid procedures to stop the bleeding?

  1. Pinch all the soft parts of the nose together between thumb and index finger.
  2. Press firmly toward the face compressing the pinched parts of the nose against the bones of the face.
  3. Lean forward slightly with the head tilted forward. Leaning back or tilting the head back allows the blood to run back into your sinuses and can cause gagging or inhalation or inhaling the blood. Hold the nose for at least 10-15 minutes. Repeat as necessary until the nose has stopped bleeding.
  4. Sit quietly, keeping the head higher than the level of the heart. Do not lay flat or put your head between your legs. If available, apply ice (wrapped in a towel) to nose and cheeks or forehead, whilst still pinching the nose to try and stop the bleeding faster.

How do you prevent the nose from bleeding again?

  • When lying down elevate your head with a pillow to 30-45 degrees
  • Do not blow your nose or put anything into it. If you have to sneeze open your mouth so that the air will escape out the mouth and not through the nose
  • Do not strain or bend down to lift anything heavy. Avoid strenuous activities for at least 12 hours
  • Try and keep your head higher than the level of your heart
  • Do not smoke or drink alcohol for 24 hours
  • No hot liquids for at least 24 hours
  • Do not take medications that will thin the blood. If these have been prescribed by your doctor then contact them for further advice.

Other advice

  • Contact your GP if you have recurring nose bleeds, you may require further treatment.
  • If re-bleeding occurs, try to clear the nose of clots by sniffing in forcefully and then spitting them out through the mouth. Then repeat the steps.

Visit the Minor Injuries Unit webpage for more information about this service.