Nosebleeds can be dramatic and scary, but are rarely cause for alarm. Most often they are the result of minor irritations of the nasal passages, and are easily treated at home. They are most common in children under the age of 10, and adults over 50.

What Causes Nosebleeds?

Nosebleeds occur when the blood vessels that line the membranes of your nasal passages break. An unusually large concentration of blood vessels in this region makes the condition pretty common, especially during the winter, when the air is cold and dry. Colds and allergies, sinus infections, sneezing, nose picking, blowing the nose with gusto, inserting objects into the nostrils, excessive use of nasal sprays, and trauma to the nose can all cause irritation and a subsequent nosebleed.

If you suffer from frequent nosebleeds, you may have high blood pressure or a vascular disease. You should see a doctor to rule out a more serious disorder.

Nosebleed Treatments

Nosebleeds are easily treatable at home, and rarely require clinical intervention. When your nose begins to bleed, stay calm – stress can exacerbate the bleeding. Sit up and tilt your head back slightly, pinching your nostrils together with your thumb and index finger. Maintain this position for 5-10 minutes, or until the bleeding stops. Try to avoid activities like sneezing or blowing your nose for a few hours afterwards. If you are unable to control bleeding after 20 minutes, seek medical attention. In rare cases, posterior nosebleeds originating high and deep within the nose can cause blood to drip down the mouth and throat. This is considered a medical emergency.

If you suffer from chronic nosebleeds, there are preventive measures you can take. Try moistening the air with a humidifier. Saline nasal sprays and petroleum jelly can help prevent your nasal passages from drying out. Always blow your nose gently, and refrain from inserting foreign objects into your nose.