What It Really Means When Your Nose Starts Bleeding

Seeing a trickle of blood coming out of your nose can be pretty alarming. And while they're certainly a scary sight, nosebleeds are actually quite common. In fact, an estimated 60 percent of people will have a nosebleed at least once in their lifetime, the Cleveland Clinic reports. Still, it might make you wonder what it really means when your nose starts bleeding, and more importantly, how to stop it.

The good news is that most nosebleeds, (known as an epistaxis), aren't serious, per a study published in the The Ochsner Journal. Interestingly enough, there are two different kinds of nosebleeds: an anterior nosebleed is the one most people are familiar with, when blood vessels in the front of the nose break and bleed. But a second sort, called a posterior nosebleed, happens in the back part of the nose, causing blood to flow down the back of the throat, Medical News Today found. And the flow can sometimes be heavier.

But what's the biggest culprit for causing nosebleeds? Well, usually dry air is to blame, according to Healthline. That might explain why nosebleeds are more common in the winter, when the air is colder and drier, and home heating can additionally dry out your nasal membranes, per Harvard Health. Using a humidifier can help alleviate the issue, moistening the nostrils, thus reducing your chances for getting a nosebleed.

Other reasons for a nosebleed and how to stop one

If you take antihistamines or decongestants for allergies, or have been sneezing frequently, you also can trigger a nosebleed. And if you're prone to (ahem) picking your nose, it can cause it to bleed, too, per the Mayo Clinic. Other triggers can be an injury to the nose, or even inserting foreign objects into the nasal cavity, according to Everyday Health.

In less common instances, a nosebleed can mean something more serious. A bleeding disorder can cause nosebleeds, WebMD reports. A tumor in the sinuses can be to blame, along with hypertension, liver or kidney disease, and certain clotting disorders, Revere Health found.

If you experience an anterior nosebleed, most likely there shouldn't be too much cause for concern. To stop it, simply sit down, stay calm, and tilt your head forward, Kaiser Permanente suggests. Putting your head back (or worse, lying down) can cause the blood to go down the throat, which might induce vomiting. Pinch your nostrils using your thumb and forefinger for 10 minutes. Check to see if the bleeding has stopped, and repeat for another 10 minutes if necessary. Try not to blow your nose afterwards since it will be sensitive — and might trigger another episode.

A nosebleed can be an unsettling sight, but try not to panic. With a little pressure, patience, and some know-how, you can knock out a nosebleed easily and effectively.