Nosebleeds are fairly common and most people will experience them at some point in their life. However, they can be concerning and scary, especially if you’re bleeding a lot or if your child has a nosebleed.
Although in most cases, nosebleeds are no cause for concern, it’s good to know how to deal with them and when you should see a doctor for treatment, if needed.
A nosebleed happens when the blood vessels inside the lining of your nose are injured or irritated, which triggers bleeding. They can happen when you have injured your nose or out of the blue.
Around 60% of people will have a nosebleed at some point in their lives but only 10% of these cases are serious enough to need medical attention.
The inside of your nose is very delicate and the smallest irritation can lead to a nosebleed. In most cases, nosebleeds are caused by:
In these instances, medical treatment isn’t usually needed and the nosebleed will subside on its own.
Sometimes, nosebleeds come from deeper inside the nose, which is usually a sign that they need medical attention. This type of nosebleed more often occurs in adults and can be caused by:
Although some people are more at risk of nosebleeds, this isn’t usually a sign of a problem that needs medical attention. Those more likely to experience nosebleeds include:
Nosebleeds are easily treated at home so the key is not to worry. If you have a nosebleed, you should follow these steps:
Some decongestant sprays can also help to stop the bleeding if they contain oxymetazoline. However, these are only suitable for occasional, short-term use.
Don’t tilt your head back to try and stop the bleeding as this can cause the blood to run down the back of your throat where you can swallow it. Swallowing blood can upset your stomach and cause you to vomit, which can also make your nosebleed worse or cause it to start again.
Once your nosebleed has stopped, you should avoid doing any of these things for the next 24 hours:
Although most nosebleeds are not cause for concern, you should call your GP immediately or call 111 if:
While most nosebleeds resolve on their own, some may need treatment. You should therefore see your GP if you are having frequent nosebleeds, or:
There are some treatments available for chronic (long-term) nosebleeds. The treatments depend on the cause of your nosebleeds and include:
If you're concerned about symptoms you're experiencing or require further information on the subject, talk to a GP or see an expert consultant at your local Spire hospital.
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Lux has a BSc(Hons) in Neuroscience from UCL, a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and experience as a postdoctoral researcher in developmental biology. She has a clear and extensive understanding of the biological and medical sciences. Having worked in scientific publishing for BioMed Central and as a writer for the UK’s Medical Research Council and the National University of Singapore, she is able to clearly communicate complex concepts.
Catriona Shaw, Lead Editor
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