Nosebleeds can be frightening, but they aren't usually a sign of anything serious andcanoften be treated at home.

The medical name for a nosebleed is epistaxis.

During a nosebleed, blood flows from one or bothnostrils. It can be heavy or light and last from a few seconds to 10 minutes or more.

What to do

To stop a nosebleed:

  • sit down and firmly pinch the soft part of your nose, just above your nostrils, for at least 10-15 minutes
  • lean forward and breathe through your mouth this will drain blood down your nose instead of down the back of your throat
  • place an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables covered by a towel on the bridge of your nose
  • stay upright, rather than lying down, as this reduces the blood pressure in the blood vessels of your nose and will discourage further bleeding

If the bleeding eventually stops, you won't usually need to seek medical advice. However, in some cases you may need further treatment from your GP or in hospital (see below).

This can be caused bya blow to the head, recent nasal surgery andhardened arteries ( Atherosclerosis ).

Anyone can get a nosebleed, but they mostoften affect:

  • children between two and 10 years of age
  • elderly people
  • pregnant women
  • people who regularly take aspirin oranticoagulants, such aswarfarin
  • people with blood clotting disorders, such ashaemophilia

Bleeding may also be heavier or last longer if you take anticoagulants, have a blood clotting disorder, or have high blood pressure (hypertension) .

Are nosebleeds serious?

Nosebleeds aren't usually serious. However, frequent or heavy nosebleeds may indicate more serious health problems, such as high blood pressure or a blood clotting disorder, and should be checked.

Excessive bleeding over a prolonged period of time can also lead tofurther problems such as anaemia .

If your GP suspects a more serious problem is causing your nosebleeds, they may refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist for further tests.

Preventing nosebleeds

Things youcan dotoprevent nosebleeds include:

  • avoid picking your nose and keep your fingernails short
  • blow your nose as little as possible and only very gently
  • keep your home humidified
  • regularly apply petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) to the inside of your nostrils to keep the inside of your nose moist
  • wear a head guard during activities in which your nose or headcould get injured
  • always follow the instructions that come with nasal decongestants overusing these can cause nosebleeds

Talk to your GP if you experience nosebleeds frequently and aren't able to prevent them. They may refer you to an ENT specialist for an assessment.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 25 Nov 2016