Creating the Extraordinary Student Experience

Nose bleeds - What do they mean and how do I stop them?

Posted: June 3, 2013

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  • nytimes.com nytimes.com

Q: Why do I keep getting nosebleeds and is it serious??

A: First of all, don't panic! Nosebleeds are very common and are rarely due to a serious medical problem, like tumors, extremely high blood pressure or bleeding disorders.  About 60% of adults experience nosebleeds but less than 10% require medical attention.   

By far the most common cause of nose bleeds is nose picking! The blood vessels in the nose that bleed most often are located in the front part of the nasal septum (the middle part between your nostrils); they are fragile and can bleed pretty easily if traumatized.  Other common causes include:

  • Breathing dry air (i.e. our lovely Ohio winters, running the heater indoors, etc)
  • Sinus infections
  • Forceful nose blowing
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Allergy medications (both pills and nose sprays can dry out the lining of the nose)
  • Snorting cocaine

Here are some helpful tips on stopping and preventing nosebleeds.  Following these simple steps should take care of the vast majority of nosebleeds you might experience.  If they don't work or the nosebleeds keep coming back, come in and see us - we can do an exam and if necessary, some simple lab tests or a referral to a specialist to rule out more serious causes of nosebleeds.  But again, these are rarely required.

If you are having uncontrollable bleeding, bleeding going down the back of your throat, or are feeling like you're going to pass out, you need to call 911 get to your nearest ER right away. 

John A. Vaughn, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

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