Nosebleeds occur for many different reasons, including illness, infections, accidents and local irritation. When a nosebleed occurs, have the victim sit down with his or her head tilted forward. Place a gauze pad in each nostril and instruct the victim to breathe through the mouth and avoid swallowing the blood from the nose. Firmly pinch, or have the victim pinch, the soft part of the nose just below the bone for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Instruct the victim not to blow the nose for several hours following the nosebleed. If bleeding has not stopped within 30 minutes, summon emergency medical aid. Loss of blood may become serious. An icepack can be applied to the bridge of the nose to reduce the flow of blood down the nostril. An icepack can also be applied to the side of the nose that is bleeding. If bleeding does not stop or recurs and if nosebleeds happen frequently without apparent cause, a physician should be consulted. Cauterization may be necessary.
Spontaneous nosebleeds in the elderly may be associated with deterioration of the blood vessels. This is a result of arteriosclerosis and is not linked with hypertension, as is commonly believed. Spontaneous nosebleeds are also common at puberty, particularly in boys, when they are thought to be caused by an expansion of the blood vessels in the nose from the stimulus of the sex hormones. Drying of the mucous membrane within the nose, which may occur during the winter months, can also increase the incidence of nosebleeds.