How to Stop a Nosebleed

A nosebleed can be annoying to scary. Here are the right and best ways to stop a nosebleed.

A bloody nose can range from a minor one to a bad one, and they can be annoying to frightening. There are right and wrong ways to stop a nosebleed.

When I was younger I would get too many nosebleeds, the kind that just come out of the blue. Back then I had the wrong advice to hold my head back to stop a nosebleed. What this does is cause you to swallow blood--a lot of it. That will at the least cause nausea and at worst you can throw up the blood. Never lie down and don’t tilt your head back when you have a nosebleed. Sit up and stay calm. Sitting up will cause the head to be above the level of the heart and naturally tending to cause less bleeding.

There are two types of nosebleeds; one is the most common, called the anterior nosebleed. This comes from the front of the nose with the small capillaries. The other is the posterior nosebleed, which comes from the deeper part of the nose.

Ways to Stop a Nosebleed

· Sit up, relax, lean your head slightly forward and press the side that is bleeding with your finger near the tip of the nose. Do this with good pressure but not to the point of pain. Use the hand from the same side as the nosebleed is on. You can use your index finger or your thumb, whichever is more comfortable. Hold it for about 5 or 6 minutes. Then easily take your finger off of your nose and see how it is doing. If it is still bleeding moderately to bad, press it again with your finger for another 5 minutes. At the same time with your other hand, you can put an ice cube or an ice pack at the bridge of your nose. This can cause the capillaries to constrict and help stop the bleeding. The ice can be annoying, since melting water could run down your nose or hand. Having some kind of towel will help. If after about 20 minutes the bleeding hasn’t mostly stopped, you should call your doctor or go to a clinic. They can easily get it to stop.

· If it is just a minor nosebleed, certainly not has bad as the above example, some people put some cotton or a piece of Kleenex “stuffed” into the bleeding nostril. This should allow it to clot and stop bleeding. This can cause another nosebleed at times because when the Kleenex is pulled out, this also pulls out the blood clot, which can start the bleeding all over again.

· There are products you can buy that say they stop bleeding; I have never tried them before. The most talked-about product is an FDA-approved product called NasalCEASE®. This is for a minor nosebleeds only. Ask your doctor first about this product, about its usefulness and safety.

There are varying methods to stop a nosebleed.  The Mayo clinic has a slightly different way; they say to blow the nose at the start of a nosebleed. But others say this could cause worse bleeding. I have personally thought it was too distressing for the nose to do that. I have read both to pinch just the bleeding nostril and also to pinch both nostrils and breath through the mouth. This can be very annoying if there is any blood going down the throat. With pinching just the bleeding side, at least you can breathe through the other nostril and your mouth.

What You Should Do After a Nosebleed

There are a few things you should do after a nosebleed so you don’t get another one.

· Take it easy, no rapid moving around and no heavy lifting.

· Don’t bend over; and try to keep your head about the level of your heart, which could include sleeping with an extra pillow.

· Don’t blow your nose for as long as you can take it. Your nose could feel quite stuffy but try not to blow it. If it is running, use a Kleenex and just “dab” at it. Just don’t constantly sniff.

· Your nose can really dry out after a nosebleed. There is a product called Ayr saline nasal gel or spray from B. F. Ascher (pronounced "air") that is very good at keeping your nose moist, so that  the next time you blow your nose it won’t be totally dry again. When you do blow your nose, do it gently.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to stop a nosebleed since I know they can be miserable to downright scary. The article: How to Avoid Getting a Nosebleed should also be helpful.

© 2009 Sam Montana


Denver Children's Hospital - nosebleeds

Mayo Clinic


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