Symptoms and Signs of Nosebleed (Epistaxis)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 11/12/2021

Doctor's Notes on Nosebleed (Epistaxis)

A nosebleed refers to bleeding through the nostrils of the nose due to any cause. The medical term for nosebleed is epistaxis. The most common causes of nosebleed include:

  • drying or cracking of the nasal membranes from dry climates and 
  • trauma from nose-picking.

Other factors that increase the likelihood of nosebleed include:

  • infection,
  • trauma, 
  • allergic and non-allergic rhinitis, 
  • hypertension
  • alcohol abuse,
  • inherited bleeding problems, and
  • taking medications that interfere with blood clotting.

Signs and symptoms of nosebleed include mild to severe bleeding from the nostrils. Some people experience associated symptoms such as feeling weak or faint if the bleeding is extensive. If blood collects in the throat and is swallowed, it may cause nauseavomiting, or diarrhea.

What Is the Treatment for a Nosebleed?

Nosebleed can often be managed at home by following these steps:

  • Lean forward slightly with your head tilted forward and spit out any blood that may be in your mouth and throat. 
  • Gently blow any blood clots out of your nose. 
  • Pinch the soft parts of your nose together between your thumb and index finger and press toward your face, compressing the pinched parts of your nose against the bones of your face. Breathe through your mouth.
  • Hold your nose for at least 5 minutes. Repeat until your nose has stopped bleeding.
  • Do not lie down or put your head between your legs.
  • Apply ice packs covered in a cloth or towel to your nose and cheeks afterwards.

If these measures do not help or the bleeding is severe, a doctor may use heat or chemical applications to stop the bleeding. In some cases, packing may be placed inside the nose. 

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.