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Health Team

Bloody nose? Tilt your head forward, not backward

Posted July 4
Updated July 6

Few things will stop you dead in your tracks like a bloody nose.

Bloody noses are not usually a cause for great concern, but they can be embarrassing, so you want to quickly get the bleeding under control. There is a right way and a wrong way to to quell the bleeding, though.

The response most people have to nosebleeds is to look up, tilting their heads back. Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Neha Vyas doesn't recommend that method.

"The actual way to stop a bloody nose is actually to lean forward and close up the nostril that is bleeding," Vyas said.

Vyas said tilting the head back will cause the blood to drop down the back of the throat, which can lead to vomiting and stomach aches.

There are small clusters of capillaries in the nose that can become engorged and cause the bloody nose. It can be brought on by changes in the weather or a foreign body lodged in the nose. Other times a tendency for nosebleeds can be a genetic predisposition within families.

In rare cases, bloody noses can be a sign of a clotting disorder.

As for getting it under control, Vyas says most nosebleeds stop after about 10 minutes. If it lasts longer, seek medical attention.

"If a nose does not stop bleeding after about 30 minutes, that is truly a medical emergency, and you should consult your nearest doctor's office or physician for further intervention," Vyas said.

Vyas says one remedy is to use a small amount of over-the-counter nasal decongestant spray on a cotton swab and gently insert it into the bleeding nostril. Otherwise, sit still, tilt your head forward and wait for the bleeding to stop on its own.

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