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Updated on March 23, 2012

A nosebleed, also called epistaxis, is bleeding from the nose. Nosebleeds occur commonly and may result from a variety of causes. Most often they occur because of the rupture of small veins in the septum, the partition that divides one side of the nose from the other. Minor irritation or injury may rupture the veins, or spontaneous ruptures may occur, particularly after a cough or sneeze causes blood pressure in the vessels to rise. Most nosebleeds are not serious and stop in 10 or 15 minutes without treatment. Occasionally, nosebleeds are caused by a disease, such as leukemia, that affects the blood, and sometimes they are a symptom of some other disorder, such as high blood pressure, rheumatic fever, or a disease of the blood vessels.

To control a nosebleed, a person should lie down and apply a cold compress, such as an icebag or a towel wet with ice water, to the nose. Applying pressure over the site of bleeding also helps to control the loss of blood. Often, cotton soaked with nosedrops can be applied directly to the bleeding area. If bleeding persists, medical attention may be needed.

After a nosebleed stops, it is important not to dislodge the clot that forms until healing has occurred.

Care should be taken not to pick at the clot or to blow the nose violently.


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