Nosebleeds/Epistaxis

The medical term for a nosebleed is epistaxis. Nosebleeds occur easily because blood vessels inside the nose are located very close to the surface. Therefore, any little bit of trauma or increased pressure can cause bleeding to occur. Dry air can also increase the chances of epistaxis because our nasal passages are lined with highly vascularized mucosa that serves to warm and moisten the air that we breathe in. When the air we breathe is dry, the mucosa can easily dry out and crack, causing nosebleeds.

Other common causes of epistaxis include:

  • Allergies
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Nose picking
  • Chemical inhalants
  • Blood Thinners
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Nasal polyps or other abnormal growths
  • A deviated septum


Most nosebleeds resolve within a few minutes and are easily treated at home. Some tips to help a nosebleed stop:

  • Sit down and lean slightly forward to prevent blood from draining down the back of the throat
  • Pinch the soft part of your nose together with your thumb and index finger for 5-15 minutes
  • Remain calm and breathe through your mouth
  • If bleeding continues for more than 15 minutes, you can try an OTC nasal spray such as oxymetazoline (Afrin®) - spray into the affected nostril(s) then re-apply pressure until it stops


Seek medical attention if:

  • You are on blood thinners and the methods above to do not stop the bleeding within 20-30 minutes
  • You feel lightheaded, dizzy or weak in any way
  • Your nose continues to rebleed
  • Blood drains down the back of your throat despite leaning forward. This may indicate a posterior bleed which is rare but much more serious and requires immediate attention.
  • The nosebleed is from an injury such as a hit to the nose or face
  • You have unusual bruising or excessive bleeding from your gums in addition to the nosebleeds


Although we will all likely have a nosebleed sometime in our life, there are ways to prevent or at least minimize the occurrence of nosebleeds. Here are a few tips to decrease the chances of a nosebleed:

  • If you live in a dry climate, add a whole-house humidifier or at least run a humidifier in your bedroom at night
  • Use saline nasal sprays on a regular basis
  • Apply water-soluble ointments such as Vaseline® to the rim of the opening of your nostrils to aid in moisturizing the air that you breathe in (avoid occluding the passageway)
  • Sneeze with your mouth open
  • Limit your use of aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and take any prescription anticoagulants only as directed
  • Avoid forcefully blowing your nose
  • Quit smoking, which irritates and dries out your nasal cavity


If you find that you battle nosebleeds more often than you think you should, contact our office today for a complete evaluation to rule out structural or other internal causes. We will be more than happy to help you find a way to make frequent epistaxis a thing of the past for you.

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