Things You Never Knew About Nosebleeds

By Karen Pallarito

What is a nosebleed?

Nosebleeds can occur without warning. One minute you’re fine, the next you’re grabbing tissues to stop a bloody nose.

Everyone’s nose is full of blood vessels that can easily break and bleed. Nasal bleeding is a common problem, particularly during the winter months when dry, indoor air causes the mucous membranes of the nasal passageway to crack and crust, which can lead to bleeding.

While nosebleeds usually aren’t serious, you need to know how to manage them properly and when to seek medical attention.

The following facts can help you confidently care for your next bloody nose.

Who gets nosebleeds?

It’s estimated that one in seven Americans will have nasal bleeding, or epistaxis in medical lingo, at some point in their lifetime.


Nosebleeds can occur at any age, but they’re more common in children ages 2 to 10 and in adults 50 to 80, says the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

What are the types of nosebleeds?

There are two types of nosebleeds: posterior and anterior. Anterior nosebleeds involve tiny blood vessels in the front of the nose. Most anterior nosebleeds can be self-treated.

Posterior nosebleeds involve bigger blood vessels deep in the nasal cavity and can be more problematic because bleeding can be profuse and difficult to stop. These nosebleeds almost always require medical intervention.

“Overall, anterior nosebleeds are much more common than posterior,” says Shaunda Rodriguez, DO, an ear, nose, and throat/head and neck surgeon with Via Christi Health in Wichita, Kansas.

What causes nosebleeds?

Dry air can sap moisture from nasal membranes. Not only is it uncomfortable, but it cause the mucous lining of the nose to crust, crack, and bleed–sometimes without any provocation. But nosebleeds are most often due to nose picking or some other disturbance, such as an aggressive nose blow or the repeated poke of a nasal spray bottle. Inflammation due to allergies or common viruses like colds can also make the nasal lining more vulnerable to nosebleeds.

Less often, a bloody nose is the consequence of blunt trauma due to, say, a car accident or a punch. Sometimes blunt trauma causes nosebleeds when children stick small objects up their noses or when adults try to extract those items. Using certain allergy medications or illegal drugs like cocaine can cause nasal bleeding too.

In rarer cases, nosebleeds can also be caused by a genetic condition called hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, a blood clotting disorder, or even cancer.


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