Can stress cause nose bleeds?

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated January 3, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

You may be familiar with nosebleeds as a result of dry air, allergies, injuries, or other irritations to the inside of the nose. But could stress be a potential cause of a bloody nose, and if so, how? 

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In this article, we will explore the phenomenon of stress-related nosebleeds in more detail, including why they may occur, what other physical effects stress may have on the body, and how therapy may be helpful for those who experience physical symptoms as a result of chronic stress. 

What is a nosebleed?

According to the National Library of Medicine, a nosebleed—also known as “epistaxis”—is defined as “loss of blood from the tissue lining the nose. Bleeding most often occurs in one nostril only”. If your nose bleeds, you may experience symptoms such as:

  • Blood running from one or both nostrils
  • An urge to swallow
  • A sensation of runniness in the throat 
  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Nausea

The inside of the nose contains a high number of small, superficial, and fragile blood vessels, which may easily become irritated or damaged due to factors such as:

  • Dry climate
  • High altitude
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • An object entering the nose
  • Allergies
  • Trauma to the nose or face
  • Recreational drugs that are taken in through the nose
  • Exposure to certain chemicals
  • A deviated septum

In some cases, other factors—such as blood-thinning medications, nasal tumors or polyps, hemophilia, pregnancy, or certain nasal sprays—may also make an individual more susceptible to developing nosebleeds. 

What causes nosebleeds?

A nosebleed, also called epistaxis, usually occurs when a blood vessel in the nose lining cracks or bursts. There may be multiple potential causes of a nosebleed. These may include health conditions, physical injuries, allergies, stress, and environmental conditions.

There are generally two known types of nosebleeds: anterior nosebleeds and posterior nosebleeds.

Anterior nosebleeds normally flow from the front of your nose. They can be caused by scratching or dry air. On the other hand, a posterior nosebleed typically comes from the back of your nasal cavity and might be caused by a bleeding disorder. This nosebleed may be more serious and could require further tests to identify underlying conditions.

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During a stressful event, the body typically releases cortisol, which is commonly thought of as the stress hormone. When cortisol is released into the body, it can constrict blood vessels, potentially causing the blood flow to redirect to the muscles. This can give the muscles energy to fight or escape any potential threat.

Like other parts of the body, the nose generally also has blood vessels that can constrict due to cortisol's effects on the body. When the nose's blood vessels constrict, they may rupture and cause a stress-related nosebleed.

A stress-related nosebleed may occur when you feel anxious or stressed. If you notice you have nosebleeds whenever you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it's possible that stress could be the culprit. If you have frequent nosebleeds, it's usually best to seek medical attention, whether you believe they're stress-induced or not.

How to treat nosebleeds caused by stress

If you ever experience a nosebleed that could be caused by stress, try not to panic. The steps in treating stress-related nosebleeds are typically similar to treating the usual nosebleed. 

1. Sit up straight and slightly tilt your head forward.

This can prevent the blood from going down your throat. When blood goes down your throat, you may choke or develop an upset stomach. 

2. Use your fingers to pinch your nose shut. 

By pinching, you may be able to put pressure on the nose’s blood vessels and stop the blood flow. Keep pinching your nose shut for at least five minutes. After five minutes, let go of your nose and check to see if the bleeding has stopped. If the blood continues to flow, try to pinch your nose again for 10 to 15 minutes. 

3. Relax and slowly breathe in and out through your mouth.

Continue pinching your nose while slowly breathing in and out through your mouth to relax your body and mind. If your nose continues to bleed after 20 minutes, it can be best to seek medical attention.

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How to prevent stress-related nosebleeds

The best way to prevent stress-related nosebleeds can be to focus on their root cause. You should generally try to address the signs of stress as soon as possible before it affects your physical and mental health. Healthy lifestyle changes can be excellent ways to relieve stress. You might consider the following:

  • Practice regular exercise or other physical activities.
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods.
  • Avoid drinking excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Meditate.
  • Journal.
  • Reach out to family and friends.
  • Connect with a professional.

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Doing these things may help you relieve stress and live your life with more calmness and happiness. However, if you've been living with long-term chronic stress, therapy can be an effective way to address it. 

If your stress levels and corresponding symptoms (like nosebleeds) have become unmanageable, you might want to consider online therapy. This type of therapy can be especially convenient because it typically allows you to attend sessions with a licensed professional from the comfort of your home or any location with an internet connection. Plus, there is usually greater scheduling flexibility, and you may be able to schedule sessions outside of typical office hours.

While online therapy may not take place in a therapist’s office, it can still be highly effective. This study generally recommended the use of online psychotherapeutic interventions for anxiety and depression


Stress can be an indirect cause of nosebleeds. It may trigger or worsen nosebleeds and cause other physical, emotional, and psychological effects. You might try to ease stress and make healthy lifestyle changes to prevent stress-related nosebleeds. Seeking therapy, whether in person or online, can also be an effective way to prevent and manage stress-related conditions.
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