First Aid: How To Manage A Nose Bleed

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A nose bleed can occur due to rupture of a small blood vessel within the nostril. They are a common condition that can cause panic and distress. In the medical world, a nosebleed is called ‘epistaxis’.

Nosebleeds can occur following a bout of sneezing or if the nose is picked aggressively. The small blood vessels within the nose are fragile and can rupture due to this trauma. Individuals with high blood pressure and those taking blood thinning medication such as aspirin or Warfarin are more prone to developing heavy bleeding.

How to manage a nose bleed

Here are some simple steps to stop bleeding from the nose.

Sit up, pinch the nose and lean forward

Many people who suffer a nose bleed believe they must pinch the nose and tilt the head backwards. This is wrong.

The head must be tilted forward to allow the blood to drain down the nose rather than the back of the throat. Any swallowed blood can irritate the stomach, and therefore it is necessary to lean forward.

The nose can be pinched using the thumb and index finger and should be held for up to 10-15 minutes. This compresses the blood vessels and stops further bleeding.

The table below lists out the steps to stop a nose bleed.

STEPS TO STOP A NOSE BLEED
  • Sit up immediately.
  • Pinch the nose tight and breathe through the mouth.
  • Lean forward to allow the blood to drain out of the nose.
  • If bleeding continues more than 15 – 20 minutes, then seek medical help straight away.

Avoid further trauma

Once bleeding has stopped, avoid picking the nose or blowing the nose again. There will be dried blood that can be removed with a clean wet cloth after the bleeding has completely stopped.

If re-bleeding occurs –

Blow the nose gently to clear the blood, spray some nasal decongestant (like Vicks Sinex) into the nostril and pinch the nose again as described above.

When to seek medical help

If the bleeding persists despite the above measures, then seek medical help immediately. This is particularly important if you are taking blood thinning medication such as Aspirin, Clopidogrel, Acitrom or Warfarin. Specialist treatment may be needed.

Recommended purchase

This book by St Johns Ambulance, UK is a comprehensive review for the general public on how to manage simple problems at home. It is definitely worth having on your bookshelf for quick reference. We strongly recommend this.

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