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Once and For All: Here’s What to Do When You Have a Nosebleed

What to Do When You Have a Nosebleed

I can remember when I was a kid, a camp counselor told me you put your head forward when you have a nosebleed. and later that same week a teacher told me that you need to put your head back when you have a nosebleed.

Who does one trust, when you’re a small child and you assume all adults know everything? And what is the right thing to do?

Let’s get this straight, once and for all.

What to Do When You Have a Nosebleed

First and foremost, ignore my former teacher’s advice and do not tilt your head back.

Not only is this unhelpful, it’s actually pretty dangerous. If you tilt your head back, the blood in your nose could wind up in your stomach, which could cause intense vomiting. Or, it can even end up in your lungs. This can lead you to choke on your blood or even cause pneumonia. Yikes.

So tilt your head forward, slightly. But not too much. Now firmly pinch the soft part of your nose shut. Pinch it closed for a full 10 minutes, while you breathe through your mouth. Be sure to give it the full 10 minutes and resist the temptation to look to see if it’s still bleeding.

If you have a cold compress or ice pack, gently rest it on your nose and cheeks. This will constrict the blood vessels and help slow/ stop the bleeding.

Also be sure to try to avoid blowing your nose for the next 12 hours.

Do Nasal Sprays Help Nosebleeds?

Surprisingly, yes they do.

The product you use to open up your stuffed airways can also help to stop a nosebleed. So if you have a decongestant nasal spray like Afrin handy when you get a nosebleed, apply it right away when the bleeding starts, and then pinch.

Where Do Nosebleeds Come From?

You may get a nosebleed from dry weather, changes to your altitude, or a direct blow to the face. However, most nosebleeds can be treated the above way, with a firm pinch and a lean forward.

“Most nosebleeds occur when a blood vessel in the nose’s soft cartilage leaks. These are called anterior nosebleeds. Posterior nosebleeds come from blood vessels higher up in the nose,” said Dr. Mary Pickett, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“It makes sense to treat every nosebleed as if it is an anterior one, and try to stop it at home. You will be right 94% of the time.”

What if My Nosebleed Lasts More Than 20 Minutes?

Most nosebleeds will not last a half an hour, if treated the right way. But if it bleeds any longer, you should seek medical help. And if you’re experiencing frequent nose bleeds, you should speak to an ears nose and throat specialist.

Houston Sinus & Allergy specializes in treating nasal and sinus conditions and providing allergy care. Our practice is committed to helping you find long term relief from your symptoms. Dr. Nguyen is a Board Certified ENT – Head and Neck Surgeon with extensive training & experience in diseases of the ears, nose & throat.

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