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First Aid 

Nosebleed

Nosebleeds most commonly occur when small blood vessels rupture inside the nostrils. Nosebleeds can occur after sneezing, nose picking, blowing the nose, or after a direct blow to the nasal area. They can also be caused by hypertension or the use of blood thinning medication. If there is severe blood loss, nosebleeds can be quite serious. Seek emergency medical care immediately if any of the following symptoms arise:

  • Faintness/lightheadedness

  • Bleeding lasts more than 30 minutes

  • Bleeding follows a head injury and blood appears thin and watery

  • Bleeding follows a head injury, accident, or fall

  • Bleeding occurs while taking blood thinners (Eliquis, Plavix, Xarelto, Coumadin/Warfarin, Pradaxa, etc.)

To prevent nosebleeds, add a water-based lubricant to the nostrils or increase the humidity in your home with a humidifier. To treat nosebleeds and stop bleeding, take the following steps:

  1. Sit down and tilt the head forward, breathing through the mouth. Do not tilt the head back, as blood may run down the throat.

  2. Gently blow the nose to remove blood clots and spray Afrin in the nose if available. Try not to swallow, speak, cough, spit, or sniff.

  3. Pinch the nose shut in the soft part just below the nasal bone for 10-15 minutes.

  4. After 10-15 minutes, check to see if the bleeding has stopped. If not, repeat step 3 for 10-15 more minutes. If the bleeding has not stopped after more time, seek medical care.

  5. When the bleeding has stopped, clean around the nose with lukewarm water.

  6. Void picking the nose, blowing the nose, bending over, or exertion for several hours after a nosebleed. 

Resources

Austin, M., Crawford, R., & Armstrong, V. J. (2014). First aid manual. (G. M. Piazza, Ed.) (5th ed.). DK Publishing. https://kuiyem.ku.edu.tr/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/American-College-of-Emergency-Physicians-ACEP-First-Aid-Manual.pdf.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, December 18). Nosebleeds: First aid. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-nosebleeds/basics/art-20056683.