Health conditions

Nose bleeds

Nose bleeds can occur when the blood vessels or the lining or the nose become damaged.

Whilst it can be alarming to have a nosebleed, it usually does not cause a serious problem.

Nose bleeds are common and about ten per cent of people will have one in their lifetime. 

They occur more commonly in young children and adults over 65 years of age. Most nosebleeds can be managed quite easily at home, are minor and will not cause a problem. 

However, if they become frequent see your family GP so that the cause can be investigated.

If the bleeding is profuse and you are unable to stop it with first aid, see your family GP or go to the emergency department.

Do

  • rest quietly for 12–24 hours
  • try to avoid bumping your nose
  • sneeze with your mouth open
  • attend follow up appointments. 

Do not

  • pick, blow your nose or sniff for 12 hours after the bleeding has stopped
  • remove any packing your clinician has put in your nose
  • drink hot fluids or eat hot foods for 24 hours 
  • exercise strenuously or lift heavy objects for the next week
  • strain excessively during a bowel motion
  • smoke cigarettes
  • bend over to pick things up – bend at the knees instead
  • take hot baths/showers
  • take any recreational drugs.

First aid

  • keep calm
  • sit up and bend your head forward slightly
  • blow your nose gently, then apply very firm pressure to the soft part of the nose just above the nostrils
  • maintain the pressure for ten minutes
  • breathe through your mouth
  • apply an ice pack to the forehead and the back of the neck
  • spit out any blood which enters the mouth
  • release pressure gradually after ten minutes to assess if the bleeding has stopped
  • seek medical attention if the bleeding continues
  • suck on ice cubes.

Prevention

  • use a humidifier to prevent the nose drying out
  • apply a small amount of lubricant cream or ointment to the nose lining such as Vaseline® or paw paw ointment
  • do not pick the nose, blow gently instead
  • eat a diet rich in fibre to reduce the incidence of constipation
  • drink plenty of fluids
  • avoid contact sports.

See your family GP or return to the emergency department if any of the following develop

  • are unable to stop the bleeding after giving first aid
  • difficulty breathing through an open mouth
  • vomiting blood
  • develop a fever or chill
  • develop a discharge that looks like pus
  • are taking warfarin/heparin.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • Visit a GP after hours
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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