Nose Bleed/epistaxis: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Nose Bleed/epistaxis?

A nosebleed is loss of blood from the tissue lining the nose. Bleeding usually occurs in one nostril only. The purpose of the nose is to warm and humidify the air that we breathe in. The nose is lined with many blood vessels that lie close to the surface where they can be injured and bleed. Once a vessel starts to bleed, the bleeding tends to recur since the clot or scab is easily dislodged.
Types of epistaxis-
Anterior nosebleeds- bleeding usually comes from a blood vessel at the very front part of the nose. It occurs more commonly.
Posterior nosebleeds- bleeding usually comes from an artery in the back part of the nose. It is much complicated and requires medical attention.

Recovery Time

When done correctly, simple first-aid measures usually will stop an uncomplicated anterior nosebleed within minutes (20-30 minutes).


The doctor will examine your nose to determine where the bleeding is located. If necessary, he or she may insert a lighted, tube-like instrument called an endoscope into your nose to see the site of bleeding. Blood tests may be done to check for any bleeding abnormalities.

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1. What is epistaxis?
Bleeding from one or both nostrils is known as epistaxis or nosebleed. Bleeding usually occurs in one nostril. Bleed from anterior front portion of the nose is anterior epistaxis which is more common. Bleed from posterior portion is posterior epistaxis which requires medical attention.

Q2. What should be done immediately if the nose starts bleeding?
Pinch all the soft parts of the nose together between the thumb and index finger.
Press firmly toward the face – compressing the pinched parts of the nose against the bones of the face.
Lean forward slightly with the head tilted forward. Leaning back or tilting the head back allows the blood to run back into the sinuses and throat and can cause gagging or inhaling the blood.
Hold the nose for at least five minutes. Repeat as necessary until the nose has stopped bleeding.
Sit quietly, keeping the head higher than the level of the heart. Do not lay flat or put your head between your legs .Apply ice (wrapped in a towel) to nose and cheeks.

Q3. When shall one consult a doctor?
Consult a doctor if you cannot stop a nosebleed by using the first-aid measures and bleeding is rapid, or if blood loss is large. When you feel weak or faint and your nosebleed is associated with trauma to the face associated with loss of consciousness, or blurry vision, fever or headache.

Q4. What is the most common cause of epistaxis in elderlies?
Hypertension is the most common cause in elderlies which causes posterior nose bleed, while nose picking is most common cause in children causes anterior bleed.

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