Answer – Health Literacy Pop Quiz

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For nosebleeds should you hold pressure while tipping your head down or back?


Pinch your nostrils together firmly in the soft front part just below where you can feel harder bone. Tip your head forward, or down, not back.

Many people who come to the Emergency Departmetn (ED) for a nosebleed have not tried a good technique for stopping it at home. Seeing your own blood can be distressing, but unless you are on a blood thinner, very rarely would you lose enough blood to need a blood transfusion. Using poor technique can actually make a nosebleed last longer.

Most nosebleeds come from the front part of your nose, along the the wall (septum) separating your left from your right nostril. Fragile blood vessels in this area can leak after a violent sneeze or cough, with big changes in heat or humidity, or after picking your nose with a finger.

Here are some tips to stop your nosebleed more effectively:

• Sit down and rest quietly, which keeps your heart rate and blood pressure lower.
• Keep pressure firm and constant for at least 10 minutes.

• Tip your head backwards. This position makes it more likely for blood to drip backwards to your throat and get swallowed.
• Frequently check or check too soon to see if your nosebleed has stopped. This disrupts the clot that your body is forming to stop the bleed.
• Necessarily use ice or an ice pack. It is unlikely that applying an ice pack to your neck or forehead will cause the blood vessels in your nostril to constrict. However, doing this probably won’t hurt or help you.

When to go to the ED?
• If bleeding persists even after trying the above technique multiple times
• If the bleeding stays brisk and severe, coming out both nostrils at once
• If there is fainting and/or looking much paler than usual

This is an excerpt from PART 4: ARMCHAIR EMERG DOC in a section called “Tips and Tricks for Common Conditions”

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