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  You are at: Procedure info > Ear, nose, throat > Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds (epistaxis)
















What causes nosebleeds?

The majority of nosebleeds are caused by trauma (picking, blowing the nose or direct trauma from a punch etc). High blood pressure can also be a cause, as can be anticoagulant (blood thinning) medication. Sometimes, though, no cause can be found.


Where do nosebleeds come from?

Nosebleeds can generally be divided into 2 categories: anterior and posterior bleeds. The anterior bleeds are from the front of the nose, just inside the nostril, and cause the majority of nosebleeds. The culprit is usually a very small vessel on the septum (the hard bit that divides the nose into two). Occasionally, the bleed can be due to a posterior bleed, which is caused by an artery higher up inside the nose.


Can nosebleeds be treated at home?

Usually, they can be treated at home. If it is a small bleed and you feel well (see below), then sit straight with the head leaning forward (tilting the head back just makes the blood run down the throat and can make you feel sick). Pinch the nostrils together with your thumb and forefinger for 10 minutes. The bleed then often stops. Try to avoid rubbing, picking or blowing the nose for at least 1-2 days after, as this could restart the bleed.


Do nosebleeds need medical advice?

If the bleed continues after the above has been tried, or if it starts again, then medical advice should be sought. Also seek medical advice if the bleed is heavy, or if you start to vomit or spit up blood, feel light-headed, dizzy, have a rapid heart beat, trouble breathing, have a raised temperature, or have any other concerns whatsoever. Medical advice should also be sought if the bleeds are recurrent.

If medical advice is needed, then the specialist (often an ear, nose, throat specialist) will check inside the nose. Usually, the small bleeding vessel can be seen and cauterised. Occasionally, the nose may need to be packed, whereby the specialist fills the nose with packing material to put pressure on the bleeding point - this is usually left in place for 1-3 days.

Posterior bleeds may need a different type of packing, which could include a balloon being inflated up the nose to put pressure on the bleed. Posterior or anterior bleeds that cannot be stopped may need further intervention with surgery or radiological procedures.


What follow-up is needed afer a nosebleed?

Often, no follow-up is needed if this was an isolated minor bleed. If the bleeds recur, or are significant, then the specialist may review factors such as blood pressure, medications, etc and make adjustments to try and reduce future bleeds.


The information provided is as a guide only and you should discuss matters fully with your specialist if you have any health concerns. Nosebleeds can be dangerous and any concerns should be raised immediately with a health specialist. Please also read our disclaimer






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