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How to help someone who is having a nosebleed

26/07/2021

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Nosebleeds can be frightening, but they aren’t usually a sign of anything serious and can often be treated at home.

Nosebleeds can be frightening, but they aren’t usually a sign of anything serious and can often be treated at home. During a nosebleed, blood flows from one or both nostrils. It can be heavy or light and last from a few seconds to 15 minutes or more. Below is our guide on what you can do to help someone who is having a nosebleed.

 

What causes nosebleeds?

The inside of your nose is full of tiny, delicate blood vessels that can become damaged and bleed relatively easily.

Common causes of nosebleeds include:

  • picking your nose
  •  blowing your nose very hard
  • a minor injury to your nose
  • changes in humidity or temperature causing the inside of the nose to become dry and cracked

Occasionally, bleeding can come from the blood vessels deeper within the nose. This can be caused by a blow to the head, recent nasal surgery and hardened arteries (atherosclerosis).

 

What you can do

To stop a nosebleed:

  • Get the casualty to sit down and firmly pinch the soft part of their nose, just above the nostrils, for at least 10-15 minutes
  • Ask them to lean forward and breathe through their mouth – this will drain blood into the nose instead of down the back of their throat
  • Make sure they stay upright, rather than lying down, as this reduces the blood pressure in the blood vessels of the nose and will discourage further bleeding
  •  You can also try placing an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables covered by a towel on the bridge of their nose that may help stem the blood flow.

If the bleeding eventually stops, the casualty shouldn’t usually need to seek medical advice. However, in some cases they may need further treatment from your GP or in hospital.

 

When to seek medical advice

Contact their GP or call NHS 24’s 111 service if:

  • They are taking a blood-thinning medicine (anticoagulant) such as warfarin or have a clotting disorder such as haemophilia and the bleeding doesn’t stop
  • The casualty has symptoms of anaemia such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath and a pale complexion
  • A child under two years of age has a nosebleed
  • They have nosebleeds that come and go regularly

Take the casualty to the nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department or call 999 for an ambulance if:

  •  The bleeding continues for longer than 20 minutes
  • The bleeding is heavy and they’ve lost a lot of blood
  • They are having difficulty breathing
  • They swallow a large amount of blood that makes them vomit
  • The nosebleed developed after a serious injury, such as a car crash

 

Who gets nosebleeds?

Nosebleeds are fairly common and most people will experience them every now and again. Anyone can get a nosebleed, but they most often affect:

  • children between two and 10 years of age
  • elderly people
  • pregnant women
  • people who take blood thinning medication such as aspirin or anticoagulants, such as warfarin
  • people with blood clotting disorders, such as haemophilia

 Bleeding may also be heavier or last longer if you take anticoagulants, have a blood clotting disorder, or have high blood pressure (hypertension).

 

 Are nosebleeds serious?

Nosebleeds aren’t usually serious. However, frequent or heavy nosebleeds may indicate more serious health problems, such as high blood pressure or a blood clotting disorder, and should be checked.

Excessive bleeding over a prolonged period of time can also lead to further problems such as anaemia.

 

Preventing nosebleeds

Things you can do to prevent nosebleeds include:

  • avoid picking your nose and keep your fingernails short
  • blow your nose as little as possible and only very gently
  • keep your home humidified
  • wear a head guard during activities in which your nose or head could get injured
  • always follow the instructions that come with nasal decongestants – overusing these can cause nosebleeds.

 

If you would like more in-depth training on what to do when someone has a nose bleed you can book on to one of our award winning first aid courses. Book one of our courses or call us on 0208 211 2054 and speak to one of the team.

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