Stress is often associated with nosebleeds and a lot of those associations come from Hollywood, where it's not uncommon for extreme stress and anxiety to trigger nosebleeds.
In reality, it's not quite that straightforward but there is some truth to the idea that stress can trigger nosebleeds.
Can Stress Cause Nosebleeds?
There is a wealth of anecdotal evidence to suggest that stress and anxiety cause nosebleeds. However, it's not backed by medically-reviewed research and there's very little scientifically supported evidence to suggest that nosebleeds are triggered by stressful situations.
There could be some indirect causes though, and this is likely where the connections are made.
When stress levels rise, the following habits take over:
- Nose picking: The vast majority of nosebleeds are caused by nose picking. It is one of the most common causes of nosebleeds, as the blood vessels in the nose are very delicate and it only takes the slightest scratch for these to break and rupture.
- Nose Blowing: Some people blow their nose a lot when they are stressed or anxious. They may also blow their nose much harder than they should, rupturing the blood vessels and triggering a nosebleed.
- Headaches: Stress often triggers headaches, which is a known cause of nosebleeds.
- Other Physical Problems: Stress has a detrimental effect on the body, leading to an increased heart rate, high blood pressure, headaches, and other problems. All of these are risk factors for nosebleeds.
How to Treat Stress-Induced Nosebleeds
There are two types of nosebleeds: Anterior nosebleeds and Posterior nosebleeds. The former occur in the front of the nose. They are often caused by a scratch on the nasal septum and are typically nothing to worry about. As for Posterior nosebleeds, they occur at the back of the nasal cavity and are more likely to be serious.
If your nosebleeds last for more than 15 minutes and/or you experience very heavy blood flow, you should consult with a medical expert as soon as possible. You should also contact the emergency services if you also experience chest pain and severe dizziness or if you have clotting and bleeding disorders, take blood thinners, or have very high blood pressure.
If the nosebleeds are mild, and you think that they might be stress-related, the following tips should help:
- Get help if you have a sinus infection
- Check to see if your nostrils are dr. If so, keep the delicate tissue moist using petroleum jelly
- Be aware of harmful habits and nosebleed risk factors when you are stressed, including nose picking
- Practice relaxation techniques to stay calm and collected
What Can Cause Nosebleeds for No Reason?
It might feel like nosebleeds occur completely at random and without warning, but there is always a cause, it just might not always be obvious.
As noted above, nose picking is the most common and it's something that we don't always realize we're doing. If your nasal membranes are very sensitive or damaged, or you have long or poorly manicured nails, you are more at risk. It doesn't take much to damage the delicate tissue, rupture the blood vessels, and start your nose bleeding.
Repetitive sneezing, heavy nose blowing, and trauma can trigger nosebleeds as well. Dryness is one of the most common causes of nosebleeds "for no reason". If you spend a lot of time indoors and have the heating turned up all of the way, you will create a very dry atmosphere, and this can dry out the nasal membranes and leave them exposed.
Think about how damaged your hands becomes when you don't moisturize them and spend a lot of time in a dry and cold environment. The same thing can happen to your nose, only it's much worse as the tissue is very delicate.
These risk factors can also combine. For instance, if your nostrils are very dry and you have a sinus infection that is irritating them further, it could just one sneeze or blow away from a rupture.
As for problems like high blood pressure, and the use of blood thinning medications, these are rarely direct triggers but they can increase the blood flow and make the bleeding worse.