Nosebleeds | Treatment

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What should I do when I get a nosebleed?

A nosebleed can be scary to get -- or see -- but try to stay calm. Most nosebleeds look much worse than they really are. Almost all nosebleeds can be treated at home.

If you get a nosebleed, sit down and lean slightly forward. Keeping your head above your heart will slow the bleeding. Lean forward so the blood will drain out of your nose instead of down the back of your throat. If you lean back, you may swallow the blood. This can irritate your stomach.

Use your thumb and index finger to squeeze together the soft portion of your nose. This area is located between the end of your nose and the hard, bony ridge that forms the bridge of your nose. Keep holding your nose until the bleeding stops. Don't let go for at least 5 minutes. If it's still bleeding, hold it again for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Once the bleeding stops, don't do anything that may make it start again, such as bending over or blowing your nose.

If you get a nosebleed, use your thumb and index finger to squeeze together the soft portion of your nose.

See your doctor if:

  • The bleeding goes on for more than 20 minutes.
  • The bleeding was caused by an injury, such as a fall or something hitting your face.
  • You get nosebleeds often.

What will my doctor do for a nosebleed?

Your doctor will try to find out where the bleeding is coming from in your nose. He or she will probably ask you some questions and examine your nose. If the bleeding doesn't stop on its own or when pressure is applied, your doctor may cauterize the bleeding vessel or pack your nose to stop the bleeding.

Cauterization involves using a special solution called silver nitrate or an electrical or heating device to burn the vessel so that it stops bleeding. Your doctor will numb your nose before the procedure.

Packing the nose involves putting special gauze or an inflatable latex balloon into the nose so that enough pressure is placed on the vessel to make it stop bleeding.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 09/96

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