When to see a doctor

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Most nosebleeds aren't serious and will stop on their own or by following self-care steps.

Seek emergency medical care if your nosebleed:

  • Involves a greater than expected amount of blood
  • Makes it difficult for you to breathe
  • Won't stop after 30 minutes even with compression
  • Occurs after an injury, such as a car accident

Don't drive yourself to an emergency room if you're losing a lot of blood. Call 911 or your local emergency number or have someone drive you.

Talk to your doctor if you're having frequent nosebleeds, even if you can stop them fairly easily. It's important to determine the cause of frequent nosebleeds.

Self-care steps for occasional nosebleeds include:

  • Sit upright and lean forward. By remaining upright, you reduce blood pressure in the veins of your nose. This discourages further bleeding. Sitting forward will help you avoid swallowing blood, which can irritate your stomach.
  • Pinch your nose. Use your thumb and index finger to pinch both nostrils shut, even if only one side is bleeding. Breathe through your mouth. Continue to pinch for five to 10 minutes. This maneuver puts pressure on the bleeding point on the nasal septum and often stops the flow of blood.
  • Repeat. If the bleeding doesn't stop, repeat these steps for up to a total of 15 minutes.

After the bleeding has stopped, to keep it from starting again, don't pick or blow your nose and don't bend down for several hours. Keep your head higher than the level of your heart.

Aug. 10, 2012