How to stop a nosebleed


The inside of the nose is home to a rich blood supply. Certain areas, such as the front portion of your nasal septum (the wall that divides the inside of your nose in half) are especially rich in blood vessels. Sometimes these blood vessels can become dilated and very close to the surface. When the thin surface of the nasal lining is disrupted, such as with minor trauma or nose picking, one of these blood vessels can open up and a brisk nosebleed can result. Here in Colorado, with our low relative humidity, the nose can become quite dry, which makes the nasal lining fragile and prone to cracking open. The most common source of nosebleeds is as described above, in the front part of the nose. Though messy and at times frightening, these nosebleeds tend to be easier to control. A rarer source of nose bleeds is a blood vessel in the back of the nose. When this is the case, nosebleeds can be a lot harder to stop, and some even require hospitalization. People who take blood thinning medications, such as aspirin, Plavix, warfarin and others, tend to have more severe nosebleeds that are more difficult to stop.

Nosebleed ACTION plan:

A few simple steps can stop most nosebleeds in their tracks. This technique is for adults and older children. Ask your doctor before using Afrin in young children or in adults with a heart condition.

  • Keep a bottle of over-the-counter Afrin (oxymetazoline) nasal spray handy.

  • Soak a cotton ball in the Afrin. Place the soaked cotton into the side of the nose that is bleeding. If no cotton ball is available, simply spray the Afrin a few times into the nose.

  • Squeeze/pinch the soft part of your nose together. Do not squeeze the hard bony portion – this does nothing. Hold the squeeze tightly for 10 minutes…without peeking!

  • During the process, lean forward. Leaning your head back will only encourage the blood to go down your throat, which can make you nauseated!

Nosebleed PREVENTION plan:

In addition to specific treatments recommended by your doctor, the following measures should be taken to keep the nose as moisturized as possible:

  • Saline nasal spray. A small bottle can be carried around with you and used frequently throughout the day. This is available over-the-counter.

  • AyrTM Nasal Gel. This is a fantastic product that has a longer moisturizing effect than saline alone. This is great to use at night, but may be used as often as you like. This is also over-the-counter.

  • Cool Mist Humidifier. A humidifier at your bedside at night can help tremendously with nasal dryness. Remember to properly clean it per the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent mold growth.

Keep well hydrated. Drink plenty of water, at least 8-10 cups per day (unless of course you have a medical condition that requires fluid restriction).

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© 2017 by Jonathan C. Mills, MD