American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Putting a Stop to Nosebleeds

nosebleed.jpgNosebleeds, although common, can be frightening to experience but most are easily treated and can be prevented.

There are two types of nosebleeds:

  • Anterior nosebleeds, the most common type, come from the front of the nose and can be caused by dry air, uncontrolled allergies, cold viruses, and frequent nose picking. 

  • Posterior nosebleeds originate from the deepest part of the nose and typically affect older people, people with high blood pressure, or occur as a result of trauma to the nose.

“A dry climate or heated indoor environment can contribute to drying out mucus membranes, leaving crusts inside the nose that itch and then bleed when picked,” says James Foy, DO, an osteopathic pediatrician in Benicia, California. 

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New Ways to Treat a Nosebleed

While many people treat nosebleeds by lying on their back or pinching the bridge of the nose, Dr. Foy says those old practices can actually make the nosebleed last longer. Instead, he recommends the following:

  • Sit upright and lean forward. When you lean back, blood travels down your throat and can be swallowed, which can irritate the stomach or cause you to choke or cough.

  • Squeeze the tip of the nose, just below the bony part. This will pool the blood and help it clot.

  • Continue to squeeze for five to 10 minutes. Avoid frequently checking on progress as this may delay the clotting process. If after five or 10 minutes, the nose continues to bleed, hold for another five or 10 minutes. 

  • Seek medical attention if the nosebleed lasts longer than 20 minutes or if there has been trauma to the face or head.

“Once the bleeding has stopped, don’t pick or blow your nose,” says Dr. Foy. “This could remove the clot and halt the blood vessels from healing.” 

Preventive Measures

To prevent nosebleeds, Dr. Foy recommends using a humidifier in dryer months and treating known allergies with medication and topical treatments, like a moisturizing nose spray, nasal gel, or Vaseline.  

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to understand how lifestyle and environmental factors affect your wellbeing. They listen and partner with you to help you get healthy and stay well.


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