Nosebleeds aren't usually a sign of anything serious. They're common, particularly in children, and most can be easily treated at home.
See a GP if:
- a child under 2 years old has a nosebleed
- you have regular nosebleeds
- you have symptoms of anaemia – such as a faster heartbeat (palpitations), shortness of breath and pale skin
- you're taking a blood-thinning medicine, such as warfarin
- you have a condition that means your blood can't clot properly, such as haemophilia
Your GP might want to test you for haemophilia or for other conditions such as anaemia.
Causes of a nosebleed
The inside of the nose is delicate and nosebleeds happen when it's damaged. This can be caused by:
- picking your nose
- blowing your nose too hard
- the inside of your nose being too dry (because of a change in air temperature)
Nosebleeds that need medical attention can come from deeper inside the nose and usually affect adults. They can be caused by:
- an injury or broken nose
- high blood pressure
- conditions that affect the blood vessels or how the blood clots
- certain medicines, like warfarin
Sometimes the cause of a nosebleed is unknown.
Certain people are more prone to getting nosebleeds, including:
- children (they usually grow out of them by 11)
- elderly people
- pregnant women
How to stop a nosebleed yourself
- sit or stand upright (don't lie down)
- pinch your nose just above your nostrils for 10 to 15 minutes
- lean forward and breathe through your mouth
- place an icepack (or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a teatowel) at the top of your nose
If doctors can see where the blood is coming from they may seal it by pressing a stick with a chemical on it to stop the bleeding.
If this isn't possible, doctors might pack your nose with sponges to stop the bleeding. You may need to stay in hospital for a day or two.
When a nosebleed stops
After a nosebleed, for 24 hours try not to:
- blow your nose
- pick your nose
- drink hot drinks or alcohol
- do any heavy lifting or strenuous exercise
- pick any scabs