Nose Bleeds can be a relatively common occurrence. Most often they are a nuisance and not a true medical emergency. But they can be both.
Nose Bleed Causes & Categories
When the membranes lining the inside of the nose dry out and become irritated, the blood vessels break, causing a nosebleed. These are more common in the winter months, when the air is cold and dry. Other factors that may contribute to nosebleeds include colds and allergies, sinus infections, nose picking, blowing the nose too hard, frequent sneezing, overuse of nasal sprays, foreign objects in the nose, and trauma to the nose.
Nosebleeds are categorized depending on where they originate in the nose. Anterior, beginning in the front of the nose, are by far the most common type, with bleeding often confined to a single nostril. Posterior nosebleeds begin high and deep within the nose and cause blood to flow down the back of the mouth and throat. They are rare but serious, and require immediate medical attention.
Treating & Preventing Nose Bleeds
The first step in treating a nose bleed is to remain calm. Though there may appear to be a lot of blood, bleeding is likely not nearly as bad as it seems. Sit up and lean forward slightly, and pinch your nostrils together using your thumb and index finger. Hold this position for 5-10 minutes, until the bleeding has stopped. Refrain from blowing your nose and sneezing afterwards. If bleeding continues for longer than 20 minutes, or has occurred because of trauma to the head or face, see a doctor right away.
If you are prone to nose bleeds, use a humidifier to moisten the air. Saline nasal sprays and petroleum jelly are useful in preventing your nasal passages from drying out. Try not to blow your nose too hard, and never insert objects into your nostrils.
Sometimes anticoagulants can cause nose bleeds. If you suspect this is the case, talk with your primary care physician.