How You Should Actually Take Care of a Bloody Nose

For starters, do NOT tilt your head back.

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When you get a nosebleed, the first thing you should do is pinch the bridge of your nose and tilt your head back, right?

Nope. This method may have been the norm at one point, but it’s now the exact opposite of what the American Red Cross now recommends to stop a nosebleed quickly.

To stop the bloody nose safely, follow these steps.

  • Sit down, stay upright, and lean forward slightly. Don’t lean back or lie down; this puts pressure on the veins and makes the blood flow in the wrong direction. “If you lean back during a nosebleed, the blood will drain back into your stomach,” says nurse practitioner Erik Larson. “If you swallow it, it could potentially make you throw up.”

  • Breathe through the mouth. This is kind of common sense, and you’ll probably do this naturally since your nostrils will be a little clogged up. Breathing from the mouth when you have a bloody nose will prevent you from accidentally inhaling blood through your nostrils and down your throat (yuck).

  • Pinch the bridge of your nose, just above your nostrils, for five to 10 minutes. This actually helps the blood start to clot, which is necessary for the nosebleed to stop.

  • Ice at the bridge of the nose for a maximum of 15 minutes. This will help constrict the blood vessels in the nostrils, according to Larson, which will further prompt the blood to clot and stop the nosebleed.

If your nose is still bleeding after 20 minutes, or if you are continuing to get unexplained nosebleeds, call your doctor for further care.