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General Medical Questions
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Question : I just had a nose bleed and I wasn’t sure how to stop it. What do you suggest if it happens again?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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December 18, 2013
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In 9 out of 10 nosebleeds, the blood comes from a leaking vessel along the bendable soft cartilage in your nose. This is called an anterior nosebleed.

You can stop almost any anterior nosebleed at home. The rule of thumb is to treat every nosebleed as if it is an anterior nosebleed. You’ll be right 94% of the time.

There is one best way to stop a nosebleed at home. Just pinch your nose firmly in the right place. Then hold the pinch long enough to stop the bleeding.

Here's how to do it:

  • First, nod your head forward. This prevents blood from going down the back of your throat, where it could cause choking.
  • To find your pinching position, start at the very top of the nose. Slowly slide your fingers down the nose, with your index finger on one side and your thumb on the other. You should feel a sudden drop-off at the lower edge of the bones. Below this edge, the nose is bendable because it has soft cartilage.
  • Pinch just below this bony edge and well above your nostrils. You should feel a broad, curved edge of bone above and against your pinching fingers. Pinch far enough back on the nose that you could easily wiggle it with your fingers.
  • Include a broad area of your nose in your pinch. Press both sides of your nose firmly against the septum. This is the cartilage in the middle of your nose. Nosebleeds almost always come from the septum. Pinching uses the sides of the nose to put pressure on the septum. Direct pressure stops bleeding.
  • Even if you know what side of the nose you are bleeding from, pinch from both sides. This is the best way to put pressure on the septum.
  • If it feels like your bleeding has stopped, you are pinching in the correct place.
  • Hold your pinch at least five minutes before you release. You may need to repeat this for another five minutes.

If you can't stop your nosebleed within 20 minutes, you will need urgent medical care.

Some nosebleeds that won't stop easily are posterior nosebleeds. They come from a blood vessel deeper in the nose, near the entrances to your sinuses. These always require advanced treatment by a doctor.

 

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