Epistaxis is the medical term for “nosebleed.”
Most nosebleeds stop spontaneously. However, some may be more serious and even life-threatening.
Anterior Epistaxis vs. Posterior Epistaxis
Epistaxis may occur from the front of the nose (anterior epistaxis) or the back of the nose (posterior epistaxis).
Anterior nosebleeds are the most common and typically occur at the nasal septum (the wall that separates the left and right side of the nose), where blood vessels are close to the surface of the lining of the nose. Posterior nosebleeds are often more difficult to treat and may require physician attendance.
How to Stop Nosebleeds
Most nosebleeds can be controlled with the following steps:
- First, do not panic. Try to relax to keep your blood pressure down.
- Pinch the front part of the nose together between your thumb and two fingers and press firmly toward the face while leaning down. Keeping the head lowered will reduce the amount of blood that goes to the back of the throat.
- Keep your head higher than the level of the heart.
- Use a damp washcloth to catch any blood.
- Hold for five to 10 minutes.
- Consider spraying a decongestant spray (such as Afrin™ or Neo-Synephrine™) directly into the nose or, better yet, spray the decongestant spray onto a cotton ball and place it in the side of the nose that is bleeding. Then pinch (as above).
- Consider applying ice to your nose and cheeks for 20 minutes.
Go to the emergency room or call 911 if:
- Your nose continues to bleed uncontrollably after 15 to 20 minutes.
- You feel faint.
- You lose a large volume of blood (more than a cup).
If you do have a more serious bleed, it is not uncommon for the blood to go to the back of the throat, causing you to spit out or even vomit blood.
Schedule an evaluation with an otolaryngologist if you continue to get recurrent nose bleeds or have a history of bleeding or bruising easily.