Nosebleeds and How to Stop Them

bloody noseNosebleeds are very common, especially in children ages two to 10 years old and adults 50-70. When it’s your child, though, it can be especially unsettling and stressful whether it’s the first time or the fifth time there is blood streaming from a nostril—unless you know what to do. So take a deep breath and let’s get the facts.

What Causes a Nosebleed?

According to the National Institute of Health, nosebleeds (also called “epistaxis”) can be caused by local, systemic, environmental or medication-induced factors. Local causes can include: touching or scratching the nasal area, a deviated septum or trauma. Environmental causes, such as allergies, cold air, sinus problems or extra dryness in the winter months are very common. Ibuprofen or overuse of decongestant nasal sprays are examples of medicine-related causes.

How to Stop a Nosebleed?

  1. If you’re helping a child, get them in a sitting position and gently squeeze the soft portion of the nose between your thumb and finger (so that the nostrils are closed) for a full 10 minutes.
  2. Have them lean forward (yes, forward) to avoid swallowing blood and tell them to breathe through their mouth.
  3. Wait at least 10 minutes before checking to see if the bleeding has stopped.

Note:  contrary to popular belief, lying down with a nosebleed is not recommended.

Try to avoid blowing the nose or sniffling for several hours after a nosebleed.

How to Prevent Frequent Nosebleeds?

  • Keep your home cool and use a vaporizer to increase moisture in the air.
  • Use nasal saline spray and water-soluble jelly (such as Ayr gel) to prevent nasal linings from drying out in winter months.

When to contact a medical professional

Less than 10% of nosebleeds are cause for concern, but here are some general guidelines for when to seek medical help:

  • If you or a family member have frequent or persistent nosebleeds.
  • If nosebleeds do not appear to be related to a sinus, cold or other minor irritation.
  • If nosebleeds occur following sinus or other type of surgery.