Not Another Nosebleed! Why You’re Getting Nosebleeds as an Adult

Nick Rosen, MD
Medically reviewed by Nick Rosen, MDSeptember 29th, 2021
Nosebleed (1)

Not Another Nosebleed! Why You’re Getting Nosebleeds as an Adult

A nosebleed can be bothersome and embarrassing—especially when you’re out in public and you don’t have a tissue close at hand. Plus, it can be quite alarming to see all of that bright red blood dripping from your nose. But most nosebleeds can be managed at home and are not a cause for concern. So, what’s going on?

The nasal cavity houses five arteries at the front of the septum, a vascular region known as Kiesselbach’s plexus. Those blood vessels run very near the surface of the nasal lining. As such, the nose has a robust blood supply, and when it bleeds, it usually bleeds a lot!

What Causes Frequent Nosebleeds in Adults?

Children are particularly prone to nosebleeds, but many adults get them, too. In adults, the most common cause is breathing dry air, such as heated indoor air in the wintertime or warm outdoor air in a low-humidity climate in the summertime. Dry air can easily irritate the thin, delicate membrane that lines the nose, causing it to crack and become more susceptible to bleeding. Plus, due to the natural aging process, the body’s membranes and tissues often become drier and thinner, and the blood may take longer to clot. All of these factors can increase the likelihood of nosebleeds in the elderly.

Other common causes of nosebleeds include:

  • Excessive or forceful nose blowing

  • The common cold and other upper respiratory infections, which often involve frequent sneezing, coughing, and nose blowing

  • Sinus and nasal infections (sinusitis)

  • Inflammation of the nasal lining (allergic or non-allergic rhinitis)

  • Overuse of antihistamine nasal sprays for allergy treatment

  • Certain medications, such as aspirin and other blood thinners

  • Strong odors and chemical irritants, such as ammonia

  • A direct blow to the face or nose

  • A deviated septum

How to Stop a Nosebleed

As soon as you notice that your nose is bleeding, you should:

  • Try to relax.

  • Sit up straight and lean your body slightly forward. Do not lie down or put your head between your knees, which can cause blood to run down your throat and lead to nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

  • Breathe through your mouth.

  • Hold a clean tissue or cloth to your nose to catch the blood.

  • Using your thumb and index finger, apply direct pressure by pinching the soft, fleshy part of your nose against the hard, bony bridge. Hold for five minutes, then release. If your nose is still bleeding, continue to apply direct pressure for another 15 minutes.

  • To help constrict the blood vessels in your nasal cavity and control the bleeding, apply an ice pack to the bridge of your nose.

  • Once the bleeding stops, do not bend over or lift any heavy objects for several hours, and do not blow or rub your nose for several days.

When to Seek Medical Attention for a Nosebleed

You should call 911 or go directly to the nearest hospital emergency room if your nosebleed results from trauma, such as a car accident, fall, or direct blow to your face, or if you are unable to stop the bleeding within 20 minutes, even with the application of direct pressure.

Otherwise, it would be a good idea to talk with a medical professional if:

  • Your nosebleed is interfering with your breathing

  • Your nosebleed is accompanied by unusual bruising in other parts of your body

  • You feel weak, faint, tired, cold, or short of breath, or you have other signs of anemia

  • You experience a nosebleed after recently starting a new medication

  • You are experiencing frequent nosebleeds

If you need help dealing with a non-emergency nosebleed, you can receive top-notch in-home care from DispatchHealth. We know that you might be feeling weak or dizzy or simply not up to leaving home, and we’ll be happy to come to you! We have teams of healthcare professionals who can get to the bottom of your symptoms and provide treatment so you can breathe easily again. We can also offer some helpful tips to help you prevent nosebleeds in the future.

[availability_widget] Contact DispatchHealth today. We can provide the expert care you need for a nosebleed—safely, conveniently, and economically—in your own home.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

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The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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