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Know your nosebleeds

Know your nosebleeds
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Nosebleeds (or epistaxis) are fairly common, especially in children. They usually happen as a result of a minor injury, nose picking, or nose blowing. Occasionally, nosebleeds can signal underlying illness or injury. Very rarely, a nosebleed can be life-threatening, especially in older people. Treating a nosebleed incorrectly can prolong bleeding and make things worse. Follow these five steps to handle a nosebleed.

While nosebleeds are fairly common and harmless, watch out for these signs you’re not taking good care of yourself. 

Sit the patient down

Sit the patient down
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Ask them to lean forwards (not backwards) so that the blood drains away from the nose, not down the throat. Wear disposable gloves if you have them to protect yourself and the patient.

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Pinch the nose

Pinch the nose
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Tell the patient to breathe through their mouth and pinch the soft part of their nose to help reduce blood flow, blocking the nostrils. He or she can lean over a sink or a bowl so that they can spit out any blood as swallowing it can make them sick. Advise them not to sniff, swallow, or cough, as it can disturb the clots that are forming.

Check the nose

Check the nose
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After ten minutes, release the pressure and check the nose. If still bleeding, pinch the nose for another ten minutes.

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Offer a cold compress

Offer a cold compress
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Give the patient an ice or cold pack to hold against the bridge of their nose to help reduce blood flow.

Check the nose again

Check the nose again
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Once the bleeding has stopped, let the patient clean around their nose with a damp cloth. Tell them not to blow their nose and avoid strenuous activity for up to 12 hours.

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When to seek help

When to seek help
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Seek medical advice for a nosebleed if you have:

  • Frequent nosebleeds (more than once a week) – this can be a sign of high blood pressure.
  • Persistent nosebleeds in a person who is on blood-thinning medication such as Warfarin.
  • Thin watery blood from the nose following a blow to the head, which can indicate a possible skull fracture.
  • Frequent nosebleeds accompanied by bleeding gums as well as bruises that develop for no apparent reason.

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