You are sure to have found yourself in the situation where your nose started bleeding, and you didn’t know how to stop it. Suggestions are in plentiful supply from people with the best of intentions, but this is generally where the pantomime starts: tilt your head forwards/back/ to the side, tissues flying, arms in the air, press here, there and everywhere -in short, a complete panic, and the blood continues to flow. In this article, you can finally find out exactly what to do and what not to do, with a few recommendations to follow.
An end to the great debate: head forwards or back?
In fact, it is not recommended that you tilt your head back, because this can cause nausea. It also has no effect on the flow of the blood, which continues regardless.
So what should you do?
1) Start by gently blowing your nose to get rid of any possible blood clots.
2) Tilt your head forwards to look at the ground and breathe through your mouth.
3) Put pressure on a compression point in your nose, by placing your thumb and index finger below the bony part of the nose and pinching your nostrils. Apply this pressure for ten minutes (and time it). It takes 7 minutes for the blood to coagulate, so it is important to wait the entirety of the recommended time, and not to continue checking whether the blood is still flowing or not.
4) If the bleeding has stopped after 10 minutes, you can rest easy. If not, repeat the technique for another 10 minutes.
You can also apply ice to the centre of your forehead above the nose to cause the blood vessels to constrict. The blood flow should reduce thanks to the cold.
What precautions should you take afterwards?
If the bleeding doesn’t stop, consult a doctor!
If the bleeding has stopped:
- Avoid blowing your nose for the following 12 hours. Afterwards do so very gently.
- Cough and sneeze with your mouth open to prevent a recurrence.
- Avoid touching your nose or putting anything into it.
- Humidify the air to prevent the formation of any crusty buildup inside the nostrils.
- After a bleed that was difficult to stop, sleep with your head raised for a few nights.
Caution: Note that in certain situations, you need to call the emergency services: abundant bleeding in which the blood flows from the nostrils into the back of the throat; any risk of haemorrhage (e.g., in haemophilia, or if you are taking anticoagulants or antiplatelet medication); a serious trauma; someone in poor general health or who has other concerning symptoms that accompany the nosebleed (e.g., feeling unwell, sweats, pallour, anxiety and a state of shock, rapid pulse, etc.).