Our nose is full of blood vessels. Some people are prone to bleeding or bleed more easily than others. Although nose bleeds were once thought to be a genetic trait, bleeding disorders can cause nose bleeds and often go undiagnosed. Blood can drain externally from the nose, internally into the throat, through your eyes, or down your throat into your stomach. Sudden nosebleeds can be very traumatic, especially for children, and figuring out what triggers the bleeding could help you control or prevent future nosebleeds.
The most common cause of sudden nose bleeds is dry nasal membranes. Living in dry or cold climates increases your chance of nosebleeds. Heating indoor air in the winter can irritate the nasal membranes more; use a humidifier to add moisture to indoor air. Saline nasal sprays are natural and safe for all ages. Use saline to moisturize nasal membranes. Change in elevation while driving or flying can also bring on a nosebleed. If you are prone to nosebleeds, be prepared while traveling.
Trauma to the nose from picking your nose, bumping it or blowing too hard can also cause a sudden nosebleed. Inflammation of your sinuses from colds or allergies could cause your nose to bleed. If you experience other allergy symptoms—itchy watery eyes, itchy dry throat, sneezing, coughing or stuffiness—along with nosebleeds, consult your doctor. Treating underlying conditions could put a stop to your sudden nosebleeds.
Sudden nosebleeds could also be a warning sign for a more serious condition. High blood pressure, blood thinning, nose polyps, neck or head cancer, and nasal obstructions all cause nosebleeds. Sudden, reoccurring nosebleeds should be reported to your physician. Sudden nosebleeds can happen at the worst time, so be prepared by carrying a mini-pack of tissue with you. If you feel the trickle of blood on your lip or in your throat, head for a restroom or a place where you can safely stop to care for your nose. Tilt your head forward—tilting back could cause you to choke—place tissue on your nose to absorb the blood, and pinch the bridge of your nose. After a minute remove the tissue and check your nose. If you can’t stop the bleeding after 5 to 10 minutes or if the bleeding is so heavy that it repeatedly soaks through tissues, you should get to an urgent care center or a hospital. Severe nosebleeds that won’t stop may require cauterization by a physician to stop the bleeding.