Why Your Nosebleed Might Be More Serious Than You Think

Blowing your nose into a tissue and finding blood can be shocking at first glance. For both adults and children, nosebleeds can come out of nowhere, but typically they are not cause for concern. A nosebleed can be prompted by a number of mundane factors such as an environment with low humidity or high altitude, overuse of nasal sprays, irritation to chemical products, or a little overindulgent nose picking (via Cleveland Clinic).

Nosebleeds are not uncommon, as 60% of individuals can expect to experience a nosebleed at some point in their lives (per Cleveland Clinic). According to Kids Health, children ages three to ten are particularly susceptible to nosebleeds, because they're more likely to engage in nose-picking behavior. The inside lining of the nose is full of blood vessels. When those vessels become damaged, blood loss occurs from the surrounding tissue, leading to a nosebleed (via Cleveland Clinic). 

Most nosebleeds can be stopped without medical intervention, but this is not always the case. Anterior nosebleeds, which occur toward the front of the nose, are generally considered to be more mild and manageable. Posterior nosebleeds, on the other hand, stem from damage to blood vessels located towards the back of the nose and throat, and may require urgent medical care (via Cleveland Clinic). How can you tell when your nosebleed may be more serious and in need of professional attention? 

A nosebleed is more serious if it lasts longer than 20 minutes

Long-lasting nosebleeds or nosebleeds with other symptoms will warrant medical attention by a doctor (via Healthline). If your nosebleed has not stopped within 20 minutes, or more than a cup of blood has been lost, seek emergency care. Moreover, if you're experiencing vomiting, gagging, difficulty breathing, or bleeding also from your ears or rectum, have someone take you to the hospital, rather than drive yourself.

There are situations when a nosebleed may not require emergency intervention, but should be looked into by a medical provider for further assessment. Examples include if you get a nosebleed at the start of a new prescription medication, or if your nosebleeds occur frequently or are accompanied by symptoms of anemia or excessive bruising. Nosebleeds in children under the age of two also warrant medical attention (via Cleveland Clinic).

In the event of a mild anterior nosebleed, experts at Healthline suggest sitting in an upright position rather than lying down. Also, using a cold compress on the nose can help stop the bleeding by constricting the blood vessels. It may be tempting to blow your nose harshly to rid the nasal passages of blood, but it's important to blow gently into a tissue only once to remove any buildup. Next, pinch the nose closed for anywhere from five to 15 minutes to help halt the blood flow. Lastly, rather than stuffing your nostrils with cotton or tissue, use a damp washcloth to soak up any leakage.