When to Worry About a Nosebleed

What to do when you have a nosebleed?

Nosebleeds are a daily occurrence and chances are you will experience the situation either by yourself or to someone you see. There are simple instructions to follow and warning signs to look for.

  • Sit down: If you noticed the bleeding while standing up, it is a good idea to sit down. Some people can be frightened by the sight of blood which can trigger a vasovagal attack and cause fainting which can in turn cause more injury.
  • Ask for help: Ask the closest person to you for help in case you can’t control your bleeding, extra hands are always a good idea.
  • Do not tilt your head back: This is a common misconception that this method will stop the bleeding, rather it will allow blood to flow in another direction causing you to swallow or aspirate it. Swallowed blood can irritate the stomach causing vomiting and aspirated blood can cause severe respiratory distress. Lean your head slightly forwards to make sure that all blood flows outwards.
  • Apply compression: The first thing is to pinch your nostrils. This will compress the blood vessels of Kiesselbach’s plexus and decrease blood flow. The blood will then coagulate faster and the bleeding will stop.
  • Apply cold compresses or ice: If you can reach for a cold pack then applying it over the nose can be a good idea. Cold causes blood vessels to constrict, decreasing blood flow.
  • Use vasoactive nasal drops: Some nasal drops like Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine) which are normally used as decongestants can help constrict blood vessels. You can apply them directly or better still, apply them on a piece of cotton and place it in your nose. Do not use a small piece or push it too deep.
  • Seek medical care: If the bleeding doesn’t stop or if you feel that you are light-headed, call the emergency services in your country or visit the nearest ER.