Is There A Link Between Headaches And Nosebleeds?

As if headaches weren't bad enough on their own, sometimes they're accompanied by some additionally unpleasant symptoms. For instance, perhaps you've had a headache in tandem with sinus pressure or maybe dizziness, but have you ever experienced a headache accompanied by a nosebleed?

While this may sound strange, Medical News Today reports that the occurrence isn't actually all that unusual. Oftentimes, there's not even a connection between the two. Rather, certain injuries, health conditions, or environmental factors may be what prompts both a headache and a nosebleed to come on simultaneously. Such examples include head trauma, dry weather, allergies, excessive use of nasal sprays, a sinus infection, certain medications, a deviated septum, or anemia. 

While a nosebleed-headache combo generally subsides on its own, there are cases in which it can potentially indicate a more serious condition, reports Medical News Today. Here are the signs you'll want to be on the lookout for indicating that you may need to reach out to your doctor or seek emergency medical care.

When headaches and nosebleeds may be signs of a more serious condition

Although far less common, headaches that come on with a nosebleed may point to a more serious health condition. Such conditions include leukemia, congenital heart disease, a brain tumor, or a condition known as essential thrombocythemia, in which the body has an increased platelet count, reports Medical News Today.

Additionally, some research suggests a unique link between migraines and nosebleeds. Otherwise known as migraine-induced epistaxis, a 2012 case study published in Case Reports in Neurology detailed the case of a 47-year-old male who had experienced migraines with aura (MA) starting in his 20s. During some episodes, his migraine reached its peak after about 1.5 hours followed by a heavy nosebleed from the right nostril. Afterward, the headache subsided within 15 minutes. Although rare, the research suggests that nosebleeds may be a sign that migraine sufferers are at the tail-end of their migraine.

This case study lends further evidence to similar results found in an earlier 2008 study. Researchers compared rates of epistaxis among 200 people who did not experience recurrent headaches with 186 individuals who did experience migraines. 22 out of 186 migraine sufferers were found to experience recurrent nosebleeds (the majority of which were under the age of 40) versus only two people out of the non-migraine group. 13 of the migraine patients reported that their migraine stopped following epistaxis.

When medical attention may be warranted

As previously mentioned, most cases of simultaneous headaches and nosebleeds tend to take care of themselves. However, there are instances in which one should either contact their physician or seek emergency medical attention. Reach out to your doctor if the frequency or severity of your headaches and nosebleeds fail to improve even with the help of over-the-counter medications, worsen, become ongoing, or interfere with your day-to-day functioning, reports Medical News Today.

However, some cases of headaches or nosebleeds will require more immediate intervention. In the event that you experience headache or nosebleeds accompanied by fever, fainting, nausea, paralysis isolated to one side of the body, difficulty walking or speaking, confusion, ongoing or excessive bleeding that causes difficulty breathing, among any other unusual symptoms, be sure to seek immediate medical care (via Medical News Today). The same is true for injuries. If you've suffered a broken nose, you'll want to go to your nearest emergency room.