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Nose Bleeds in Adults

By Viktoria Carrella ; Updated July 27, 2017

Nose bleeds in adults can be problematic, particularly if they happen with some frequency. Often, nose bleeds are the result of injury, but they may also be a symptom of other problems that should be addressed by a visit to the doctor. Treatment of nose bleeds is often simple and easy and can be done at home. However, if a nose bleed does not stop within a few minutes, seek help from an emergency room.

Nose Bleeds

Nose bleeds in adults occurs when the lining of the nose has been injured. According an article reviewed by Dr. Marvin P. Freid of the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library, the nose is a hollow cavern lined with a thin membrane. Because this membrane is thin and lined with small capillaries it can be easily injured. When the capillaries of the nasal cavity are injured or torn, a nose bleed can occur. These injuries can result in small nose bleeds that are a trickle of blood, or they can result in larger bleeds that are more substantial.

Who Is Affected?

According to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library, nose bleeds in adults can affect almost anyone. Hit hard enough, the small capillaries in the nose will burst, and a nose bleed will start. In adults, frequent nose bleeds should be of concern, however, because they may be a sign of a larger and more significant health problem. One group of adults that have more frequent nose bleeds are athletes who engage in rough sports and may be hit more often in the nose.


According to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library nose picking and injuries are the most common causes of nose bleeds. However, nose bleeds can indicate more significant health problems, particularly in adults. In adults, frequent nose bleeds can be a symptom of blood clotting problems or the growth of polyps in the nasal cavity. Use of medications and drugs like aspirin can also cause nose bleeds. Another common cause of nose bleeds is dry winter air that results in drying out of the nasal passages and makes the membrane subject to bleeding.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of nose bleeds in adults are easy to recognize. According to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library most people bleed from the front of the nose. The bleeding may be a thin trickle of blood or it may be a gushing flow of blood that can be alarming. In many cases, a small nose bleed inside the nose can be recognized when blowing the nose and seeing reddish or dark bloody mucus.


Treatment for a simple nose bleed in adults can often be taken care of at home. Pinch the top of the nose at the bridge and tip the head back. According to the Merck Manuals Online Medical Library, holding the nose closed for 10 minutes should stop the bleeding. Holding an ice pack to the nose can also stop the bleeding by reducing inflammation of capillaries and stopping the flow of blood. Finally, for severe nose bleeds, it may be necessary to pack the nose with gauze. In some cases, a severe bleed may need to be cauterized by a doctor in an emergency room or urgent care.

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