Nosebleeds

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Definition

Nosebleeds, also called epistaxes (ep-ih-STAK-seez), involve bleeding from the inside of your nose. Many people have occasional nosebleeds, particularly younger children and older adults.

Although nosebleeds may be scary, they’re generally only a minor annoyance and aren’t dangerous. Frequent nosebleeds are those that occur more than once a week.

Causes

The lining of your nose contains many tiny blood vessels that lie close to the surface and are easily damaged.

The two most common causes of nosebleeds are:

  • Dry air — when your nasal membranes dry out, they’re more susceptible to bleeding and infections
  • Nose picking

Other causes of nosebleeds include:

  • Acute sinusitis
  • Allergies
  • Aspirin use
  • Hemophilia (and other bleeding disorders)
  • Blood thinners (anticoagulants), such as warfarin and heparin
  • Chemical irritants, such as ammonia
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Cocaine use
  • Common cold
  • Deviated septum
  • Foreign body in the nose
  • Nasal sprays, such as those used to treat allergies, if used frequently
  • Nonallergic rhinitis
  • Trauma to the nose

Less common causes of nosebleeds include:

  • Alcohol use
  • Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia
  • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
  • Leukemia
  • Nasal polyps
  • Nasal surgery
  • Nasal tumor
  • Second trimester pregnancy

In general, nosebleeds are not a symptom or result of high blood pressure. It is possible, but rare, that severe high blood pressure may worsen or prolong bleeding if you have a nosebleed.

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