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What Causes Nosebleeds and How Can You Prevent Them?

Nosebleeds, also known as epistaxis, occur when tiny blood vessels in the nose break, causing a sudden flow of blood from one’s nostrils. Nosebleeds are very common, as over 60% of people will experience at least one nosebleed in their lifetime. 

What Causes Nosebleeds?

Most nosebleeds start on the nasal septum in the front of the nose, which is the wall that separates your two nostrils. Irritation can occur to the nasal septum in a variety of ways

  • Allergies, especially hay fever
  • Vigorous nose-blowing
  • Genetic clotting disorders
  • Snorted or sprayed chemical irritants, such as drugs or medication
  • Medications that prevent blood clotting
  • Trauma to the nose
  • Tumors (malignant and non-malignant)
  • Deviated septum 
  • Cold and dry air 

Irritation to the lining of your nostrils, particularly dryness, affects the sensitive nerves in your nose, which leads to breaks in small capillaries in the area. These breaks induce blood leaks and eventually lead to nosebleeds. 

How Can You Stop a Nosebleed

Once a nosebleed has started, there are at-home steps that you can take to stop your nose from bleeding. 

  1. Keep your head higher than your heart and do not lean your head back to prevent blood from draining to the back of your throat. 
  2. Gently blow any clotted blood out of your nose. 
  3. Squeeze the soft portion of the nose between your thumb and finger to close your nostrils, and wait for five to 15 minutes until the bleeding has completely stopped.

If the bleeding persists for over 30 minutes, seek medical attention. Recurring cases of nosebleeds may require further treatment, such as: 

Nasal Packing

The placement of an intranasal device that applies constant local pressure to the nasal septum.


A technique where a blood vessel is burned with silver nitrate or a laser to stop the blood flow. 

How Can You Prevent Nosebleeds?

There are a myriad of ways that you can prevent nosebleeds from happening, such as: 

  • Keep the interior of your nose moist by applying a coat of saline gel or petroleum jelly at least twice a day
  • Use a saline nasal spray
  • Sleep with a humidifier in the winter months
  • Do not pick your nose
  • Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke

Contact the Ear and Sinus Institute 

If you or a loved one is concerned about recurring nosebleeds or would like to learn more about prevention options, contact the Ear and Sinus Institute here or call (817) 332-4060.

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