Nosebleeds happen to everyone at some time or another. They rarely require more than basic treatment. Nose bleeds or epitaxis can be uncomfortable but are usually not a cause for concern. Children usually get nosebleeds from irritating the membranes in their nostrils or from trauma. In adults, nosebleeds can occur because of dryness in the membranes several other reasons. Unexplained nose bleeding in adults can indicate hypertension (high blood pressure) or a more serious medical problem. An adult who experiences unexplained nosebleeds should mention them to their doctor.
Regardless of the cause, it is important to stop the nosebleed quickly. Remember to use universal precautions when dealing with blood or any other body fluid. Keep yourself safe by wearing gloves and avoiding direct contact with blood. Keep the victim and yourself calm. Blood coming from the nose can be frightening, especially for children. Encourage them to take slow deep breaths.
Second, tip the head forward, not backward. Swallowing blood can make the patient feel sick. Do not worry about staining a favorite article of clothing. Make a “thumbs up” gesture with your hand and apply your thumb to the nostril that is bleeding. Sit or stand quietly with your thumb against the side of your nose. Wait for five to ten minutes then gently release the pressure. If there is still blood flowing, repeat the process for another five to ten minutes. If the blood is coming from both nostrils, use the thumb and forefinger to pinch the nostrils together. You can use a tissue to catch dripping blood but do not stuff tissue into the nostrils. If for some reason the bleeding has not stopped after a second attempt, it is time to consult a doctor. This is also true if the victim feels light headed or dizzy. An uncontrolled nosebleed could lead to shock.
Once the bleeding has stopped, avoid blowing your nose for as long as possible. This will keep the bleeding from starting again. The victim should continue to remain quiet and calm for a time to prevent reoccurrence. Placing ice or a chemical cold pack on the bridge of the nose can constrict blood vessels and help stop bleeding. Use this along with pressure to control bleeding.
Most nosebleeds are the result of dry nasal membranes being irritated or from trauma. Unexplained frequent nosebleeds could indicate a serious medical condition. Nosebleeds that are frequent or difficult to control may require medical attention. Nosebleeds that are the result of trauma to the head, such as a fall, could indicate a more serious injury to the brain. The victim should follow up with their doctor. Anytime a victim from a significant trauma, such as a fall or car accident, is bleeding from the nose call 911 immediately.
In almost all circumstances, nosebleeds are easily treated and without serious consequences. Remaining calm, applying pressure and giving the membranes of the nose time to heal themselves is the quickest treatment available.