A nosebleed or more formally epistaxis, is a common symptom that can indicate a number of conditions, but is usually not a serious threat to life or health. Only about four persons in the United States a year die from a nosebleed although about 60% of the population suffers from them at some time during their life. Nosebleeds are almost always caused by trauma, insertion of a foreign object, inflammation from infection or allergies, and high blood pressure. Less common causes are drug abuse (including overuse of nose sprays), dry air, sudden changes in air pressure, parasites, alcohol abuse, and vitamin deficiencies.
Nosebleeds are common because the inside of the nose is filled with small blood vessels that are very close to the surface.
First aid for a nosebleed consists of applying pressure to the affected nostril. If need be, a cotton ball can be used to absorb the blood in the nostril. Tissues should be avoided. Frequent nosebleeds, or nosebleeds that cannot be stopped, can indicate a serious disease and the sufferer should seek medical attention as soon as possible. If a nosebleed will not clot within a reasonable period of time, cauterization is usually the treatment of choice. Frequent nosebleeds often respond better to the use of antibiotic ointments than to cauterization.