a child under two years of age has a nosebleed (this is rare and there’s a chance it’s caused by something serious)
you have nosebleeds that come and go regularly
Ask someone to drive you to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department or call 999 for an ambulance if:
the bleeding continues for longer than 20 minutes
the bleeding is heavy and you’ve lost a lot of blood
you’re having difficulty breathing
you swallow a large amount of blood that makes you vomit
the nosebleed developed after a serious injury, such as a car crash
If you see your GP or go to hospital with a nosebleed, you will be assessed to determine how serious your condition is and what’s likely to have caused it. This may involve looking inside your nose, measuring your pulse and blood pressure, carrying out blood testsand asking about any other symptoms you have.
The two main treatments that your GP or hospital doctor may use to stop your nose bleeding are cautery and nasal packing. These are described below.
If your doctor is able to identify exactly where the bleeding is coming from, they may carry out a minor procedure to seal the bleeding blood vessel by cauterising (burning) it.
This is normally done using a stick of a chemical called silver nitrate. Alocal anaestheticwill be sprayed into your nose to numb it and the silver nitrate stick will be held against the bleeding point for up to 10 seconds.
If cautery is ineffective or your doctor is unable to identify a specific bleeding point, they may recommend packing your nose with gauze or special nasal sponges to stop the flow of blood by applying pressure to the source of the bleeding.
Packing will usually be carried out after local anaesthetic has been sprayed into your nose. The gauze or sponges often need to be left in place for 24-48 hours before being removed by a health professional. You’ll usually need to be admitted to hospital to be monitored during this time.
If the treatments above don’t help, you may be referred to a hospital specialist such as an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor for further treatment.
Additional treatments that may be used in hospital include:
tranexamic acid– medication that can reduce bleeding by helping your blood to clot
packing under anaesthetic – your nose is carefully packed with gauze while you are unconscious from general anaesthetic
ligation – an operation using small instruments to tie off bleeding blood vessels in the back of your nose
Once your nose has stopped bleeding, you should follow the advice below to reduce the risk of your nose bleeding again and to stop you picking up an infection:
avoid blowing or picking your nose, heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, lying flat, and drinking alcohol or hot drinks for 24 hours
don’t remove any crusts that form inside your nose – these may be unpleasant, but they’re a useful part of the healing process
if you need to sneeze, try to sneeze with your mouth open to reduce the pressure in your nose
avoid people with coughs and colds
If you see a GP or a hospital doctor about your nosebleed, they may give you a prescription for an antiseptic nasal cream once the bleeding stops. This should be applied to the inside of your nostrils several times a day for up to two weeks to help prevent further bleeding.
If your nose does start to bleed again, follow the first aid advice above and seek medical advice if the bleeding doesn’t stop.