What Are Headaches and Nosebleeds?

A headache is a condition that causes pain or discomfort on one or both sides of the head. Headaches can also cause tension in other areas of your body, such as your jaw, shoulders, and neck.

The location of the headache and the type of pain you’re experiencing can indicate what type of headache you have. For example, migraine headaches tend to occur on one side of your head, and can cause nausea and vision changes. However, tension headaches occur on both sides of your head.

A nosebleed occurs when the blood vessels in your nose burst or break. While this does not typically cause pain, it can be uncomfortable and difficult to stop the bleeding.

What Causes Headaches and Nosebleeds?

Causes of headaches and nosebleeds can range from minor to severe. For example, minor causes like hay fever and sinusitis can contribute to headache and nasal irritation, which lead to nosebleed. The same is true for the common cold.

Other, more serious conditions that can lead to headache and nosebleed include:

  • anemia
  • carbon monoxide poisoning
  • chronic kidney disease
  • cocaine abuse
  • head trauma (such as a skull fracture)
  • inhaling chemicals (such as ammonia)
  • high blood pressure
  • leukemia

When to Seek Medical Help

Seek immediate medical attention if your nosebleed doesn’t stop after 20 minutes, the bleeding seems excessive, you can’t breathe well, or you’ve experienced a head injury. You should also go to the emergency room if you suspect that your nose is broken.

If you can’t link your nosebleed and headache to a cause, make an appointment to see your physician.

This information is a summary. Always seek medical attention if you’re concerned that you may be experiencing a medical emergency.

How Are Headaches and Nosebleeds Treated?

If your headache and nosebleed are due to high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce your blood pressure. Another option is to pack your nose with cotton padding. This places pressure on the blood vessels to stop the bleeding.

Your doctor may use a cauterizing or heat tool that seals off a blood vessel if applying pressure doesn’t stop the bleeding. This will stop the nose from bleeding and help reduce the risk for future bleeding.

Pain medication can reduce your headache, but you should refrain from taking aspirin. Aspirin is a blood thinner that can contribute to further nose bleeding. Your doctor may prescribe you special medication if you experience chronic migraines.

How Do I Care for Headaches and Nosebleeds at Home?

Sitting up can help reduce your nasal blood pressure and minimize bleeding. Leaning forward may help prevent blood from entering your mouth. Pinching both nostrils shut to put pressure on your nose can reduce bleeding. 

Another option is to place cotton pads in your nose while you hold it to prevent the blood from escaping. Hold your nostrils closed for 10 to 15 minutes.

Once you’ve stopped the bleeding, you can place a cool cloth on your head to reduce headache pain. Resting in a quiet, cool, and dark room can help reduce your headache. A cool room temperature will help minimize nosebleed risk.

How Can I Prevent Headaches and Nosebleeds?

You may wish to take an over-the-counter allergy medication to prevent headache and nasal symptoms if you experience seasonal allergies. Using a vaporizer in your home can help keep the inside of your nose from drying out, reducing the risk for a nosebleed.

Taking steps to reduce stress and tension in your life can help lessen your risk for tension headaches. You also may wish to evaluate your posture at work and while driving to ensure it’s not contributing to headaches or nosebleeds.