Can Nosebleeds Be Serious?

Nick Rosen, MD
Medically reviewed by Nick Rosen, MDMarch 9th, 2022
Nosebleed

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a nosebleed before. The odds are pretty good that your hand is in the air right now! That’s because nosebleeds—known medically as epitaxis—are a common problem, especially among children. The nose is an intricate organ, and considering that the inside of the nose is lined with blood vessels, even the slightest injury to it can trigger a nosebleed. A child running into a wall or even blowing his or her nose too hard can make it happen—easy as that.

Still, frequent or heavy nosebleeds may sometimes be a cause for concern. Let’s take a closer look at the factors behind nosebleeds, simple ways to stop them, and when you should seek medical care for a bloody nose.

How to Stop a Nosebleed

First things first—how do you stop a nosebleed? Thankfully, most nosebleeds aren’t serious and can be remedied at home, work, or wherever you may find yourself. A bloody nose can usually be effectively treated by:

  • Sitting upright and leaning slightly forward (tilting your head back can cause the blood to trickle down the back of your throat and make you vomit)
  • Firmly pinching the bottom, fleshy part of your nose with your thumb and index finger
  • Holding a tissue under your nose to catch any blood

You’ll want to stay in this position for at least 15 minutes. If your nose is still bleeding after that time, pinch your nose again and continue checking it every 15 minutes. Most nosebleeds will stop bleeding at this point. Some cases of epitaxis are related to low humidity levels and blood-thinning medications, which can be addressed by using a humidifier at night or switching medications, respectively.

What Causes Nosebleeds?

There are many reasons why you may be experiencing a nosebleed. Here are a few of the most common culprits:

  • Picking your nose
  • Bumping your nose during an accident, such as when you trip or run into something
  • Living in a high-altitude environment with dry air
  • Having a cold, sinus infection, allergies, or another condition that causes you to repeatedly blow or itch your nose
  • Using nasal sprays that can dry out nasal membranes
  • Being exposed to chemical irritants at home or work
  • Taking blood-thinning medication such as aspirin

Rare Causes of Nosebleeds

Rarely, a medical issue may be behind frequent nosebleeds. Some underlying conditions that can lead to chronic nosebleeds include:

  • A structural problem in the nose, such as a deviated septum
  • An abnormal growth in the nose like a polyp or tumor
  • A blood clotting disorder
  • High blood pressure
  • Leukemia
  • Immune thrombocytopenia
  • Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia
  • Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome, a rare autosomal dominant disorder that affects a person’s blood vessels

While it’s rare for any of these underlying conditions to be the reason for your constant nosebleeds, it’s still a good idea to seek medical attention to determine the cause so that you can receive the treatment you need. Other rare causes of epitaxis that are unrelated to medical conditions include being pregnant, using inhaled drugs, and drinking too much alcohol.

When to Worry About a Nosebleed

So, when should you worry about a nosebleed? There are indeed certain instances in which seeking medical attention is warranted. A prime example is if the nosebleed is causing you to feel weak or dizzy, which can be the case for those who are anemic or on blood thinners. Other reasons to seek immediate medical attention for a nosebleed include:

  • If the nosebleed hasn’t stopped after 30 minutes of direct pressure
  • If you are also vomiting or having shortness of breath
  • If the nosebleed is persistent and follows an injury

Another reason to seek medical care for a nosebleed is if the condition occurs frequently. A chronic nosebleed is one that occurs four or more times in a week and could be a symptom of an underlying condition, as previously discussed.

When to Worry About a Nosebleed in Kids

In addition to the general guidelines listed above, it’s recommended for parents to promptly consult with a medical professional about their child’s nosebleed if:

  • There is an object stuck in the nose (a common problem among children)
  • The nosebleed occurs in a child younger than two years old
  • The nosebleed is accompanied by a headache or fever

For both adults and children, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if a nosebleed leads to significant blood loss or trouble breathing.

Medical Treatment From the Comfort of Home

At DispatchHealth, we understand that you may not feel like leaving home if you or your child is dealing with a nosebleed that just won’t stop, especially if it’s causing weakness or dizziness. That’s why we come to you! After requesting a visit with us, we’ll dispatch a team to your home to provide the prompt medical attention you need. Our medical teams serve patients of all ages (starting at 3 months), delivering high-quality healthcare for your whole family. Go to our website or call us on the phone at 888-908-0553 to request a visit from DispatchHealth today.

For life-threatening and time-sensitive injuries and illnesses, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. DispatchHealth shouldn’t be used in a life-threatening emergency and doesn’t replace a primary care provider.

Sources

DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies. Sources referenced in this article:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/when-to-worry-about-a-nosebleed
  1. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/sig56370
  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/13464-nosebleed-epistaxis
  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/when-to-worry-about-a-nosebleed
  1. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/do-you-get-too-many-nosebleeds-when-to-worry/
  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/nosebleeds/basics/when-to-see-doctor/sym-20050914





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