Medical Mythology: The Bloody Nose

Medical Myth: To stop a nosebleed, tilt your head back while pinching your nose.

Fifty percent of this medical myth is true, while 50% can actually be relatively dangerous. Think of a nosebleed like a cut on your finger. What would you do to stop the bleeding? Pressure, pressure, pressure! The key to stopping any bleeding is pressure over the wound. The same theory applies in your nose. The bleed is caused by injury to an exposed blood vessel inside your nose as a result of trauma (i.e. the ever-sexy nose picking we all try to hide). To apply pressure, squeeze your nose firmly over the cartilaginous part (the softer part more towards the tip of your nose rather than the bony part closest to your face) and hold it for 5 minutes. Do not scrape away your newly-formed scab in your nose because this will simply restart your bleed. Now the myth: Tipping your head back does NOT stop the bleeding. All it does is allow the blood to flow down the back of your throat causing an upset stomach and an increased risk of choking on blood going down the wrong pipe…not a good idea. In children, the risk of aspiration (getting fluid, in this case blood, in your lungs) is even higher. The take home: Keep your head level or lean forward. Some people argue that applying an ice pack over your nose and brow helps constrict the blood vessels and slow down the bleed as well but this has never been proven Unlike tipping your head back, this can’t hurt so if you’re fond of the forehead icepack, there’s no harm in trying.


~ by jtgoldman on February 22, 2009.

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