Authored by Revere Health

Should You Go to the Emergency Room for a Bloody Nose?

January 10, 2018 | Ear, Nose, ThroatValue-Based Care

emergency room bloody nose doctor screen

Bloody noses are alarming, but most of the time they aren’t serious. Something as simple as hay fever, vigorous nose blowing, nose picking and dry air can cause a nosebleed. Other causes may be more severe, e.g., foreign object in the nose, trauma to the head or a fracture.

Nosebleeds often seem worse than they are and can usually be managed at home. In some cases, however, your nosebleed may require emergency medical care.

Managing a nosebleed at home

It’s important to know how to manage a bloody nose properly and when to seek emergency treatment. Once bleeding begins, try these at-home methods to stop a nosebleed.

Pinch your nose. Pinch your nostrils using your thumb and index finger and breathe through your nose. Pinching your nose puts pressure on the bleeding point in the septum, which often stops bleeding. Hold this position for five to 10 minutes and avoid letting go to peek at your nose.

Tilt your head forward while sitting upright. Sitting up straight reduces blood pressure in your nasal veins and discourages further bleeding. It can also prevent you from swallowing blood, which can irritate your stomach and lead to vomiting.

Use a nasal spray. If bleeding still occurs, try using a nasal spray such as Afrin (oxymetazoline) and follow the pinch and tilt process for another five to 10 minutes.

If you or your child have frequent nosebleeds, even if you can stop them easily, schedule an appointment with your doctor to identify the underlying cause. You can also try these prevention tactics at home:

  • Clip your child’s fingernails if he or she is prone to nose picking
  • Use a humidifier to counteract dry air
  • Keep the nose moist by applying a thin coating of petroleum jelly or using a saline nasal spray

When is my nosebleed an emergency?

If bleeding lasts for 15 minutes after trying at-home methods, it’s time to seek immediate care.

The next step is to decide whether you need to visit an emergency room or an urgent care. Cost can be a big factor in this decision. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the average cost of an ER visit is over $1000, while the average cost for similar services at an urgent care is only $150—although many people with insurance pay less.

If your symptoms aren’t life-threatening, nosebleeds can be treated at most urgent care centers. Revere Health Urgent Care, for example, works closely with ENT specialists to treat nosebleeds effectively and help patients avoid a trip to the emergency room.

Cases that can be treated at most urgent cares include:

  • Continual bleeding even after applying pressure and/or using Afrin
  • Nosebleeds caused by a broken nose
  • Nosebleeds caused by minor trauma to the face
  • Excessive bleeding as a result of blood thinning medications

If you are unsure as to whether your nosebleed should be treated at an urgent care or an emergency room, call your nearest urgent care. They can help you identify the appropriate level of care and direct you to an emergency room if they are unable to provide the treatment you need.

Your nosebleed may warrant an ER visit if:

  • You feel faint, dizzy or lightheaded
  • The nosebleed is caused by severe trauma like a car accident
  • Your nosebleed is accompanied by chest pain or tightness
  • You feel disoriented or confused
  • You are vomiting blood
  • You have a rash or fever

If you are not fit to drive yourself to the emergency room, have someone else take you or call 911.

Our specialists have received extensive training and completed a variety of procedures, offering the best ENT care for our patients. Our team also has access to a variety of specialties to ensure that patients receive coordinated care.



The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.