Most nosebleeds are not an emergency. However, there are some cases when frequent nosebleeds can be a cause for concern. What are some critical tips for stopping nosebleeds? And when should a person see an ENT?
1. Resist the urge to lie down
When the nose starts bleeding, people can feel tempted to tilt the head back. But this can lead to blood flowing down the back of the throat, which can cause an upset stomach or choking. It’s best to sit upright, lean slightly forward to reduce blood pressure in the veins of the nose, and breathe through the mouth.
2. Pinch for 10
Pinching the nose is a natural urge that is okay to give into. Pinching the soft part of the nose just below the nasal bones helps to compress blood vessels and slow down the bleeding. Be careful not to let up too early, though. Pinching the nose for at least 10 minutes will ensure that bleeding doesn’t pick back up again.
3. Once the bleeding stops, don’t blow it
After bleeding slows down, touching or blowing the nose can cause agitation and start the blood flow all over again. Avoid touching the nose for a few minutes. If bleeding does begin again, some people may benefit from spraying a nasal decongestant and then pinching the nose shut again for 5-10 minutes.
4. Keep nasal passageways moisturized.
One of the most common, non-emergent reasons for nosebleeds is simply a dry environment. Keep the nose moist with saline spray and run humidifiers during dry months. Some people may prefer nasal gels, and even petroleum jelly can help keep nasal passageways moisturized.
5. Ice it off
After a nosebleed, avoid activities that may cause unnecessary straining, as these can cause the bleeding to restart. Also, applying an ice pack to the nose helps to constrict blood vessels and relieve inflammation. This can be particularly helpful if the bleeding was started by an injury to the nose.
When to seek help
Although most nosebleeds don’t require medical attention, there are some instances when people should seek emergency care. If nosebleeds last longer than 30 minutes, interfere with breathing, or involve large amounts of blood, see a doctor. Additionally, patients who experience frequent nosebleeds may benefit from an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. These doctors can diagnose the reason for the nosebleeds and provide treatment options to prevent reoccurrence. For more information, see an ENT.