Blood / Hematology Headache / Migraine

What can cause a headache and a nosebleed?

Both headaches and nosebleeds are very common, and they are usually not a cause for concern. When they occur at the same time, however, people might think that they are linked.

In many cases, having a headache and a nosebleed at the same time is a coincidence. In other cases, everyday factors such as the common cold or seasonal allergies can cause both symptoms.

Rarely, there may be a more serious cause.

Keep reading for more information about headaches and nosebleeds, their causes, symptoms, and treatments.

a woman suffering a nosebleed and headache. Share on PinterestThe common cold may cause both a nosebleed and a headache.

A nosebleed can occur if a person has a broken or burst blood vessel inside the nose. Blood vessels in this area are sensitive and may break due to skin dryness or injury, such as a blow to the nose while playing sports.

Headaches have a wide range of potential causes, and there are many different types. Some common causes include stress, dehydration, and diet.

Headaches and nosebleeds are not usually linked. However, some environmental or medical factors can cause both to occur at the same time.

Everyday factors that might cause both a headache and a nosebleed include:

  • the common cold
  • allergies
  • an infection in the nose or sinuses
  • excessive use of decongestants or nasal sprays
  • dried mucus in the nasal cavity
  • use of certain medications, including warfarin
  • taking drugs through the nose
  • being in an overly dry environment
  • anemia
  • trauma to the head or face

The following sections look at some other possible causes of both headaches and nosebleeds.

One of the most common conditions that can cause a headache with a nosebleed is a deviated septum. This occurs when the nose bone (septum) and cartilage that divide the nose are significantly crooked or off-center.

A deviated septum can also cause facial pain, difficulty breathing, and blockage of one or both of the nostrils.

There is some evidence to suggest that migraine may be related to nosebleeds. For example, a small-scale study from 2008 found that adults with migraine experienced significantly more nosebleeds than those without migraine.

The study also suggested that experiencing a nosebleed may indicate that a migraine episode is starting. However, researchers will need to conduct further studies to confirm this link.

A small-scale study from 2014 looked at the association between migraine and nosebleeds in people with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT). HHT is a rare genetic condition that causes blood vessels to develop abnormalities. People in the study often had nosebleeds and migraine episodes at the same time.

Other, more serious conditions may cause both a headache and a nosebleed. Although severe, these conditions are less common and not likely the reason the average person will experience a nosebleed and a headache.

These conditions include:

Headaches and nosebleeds are both more common during pregnancy.

Nosebleeds are more common during pregnancy because the lining of the nasal passageways receive more blood, meaning that the blood vessels can burst more easily. This can also make it more difficult to breathe.

Along with this increased risk of nosebleeds, hormonal changes can cause more frequent headaches during pregnancy. However, women should see their doctor immediately for a severe headache or a headache that does not go away, as this could be a sign of a more serious issue, such as preeclampsia.

In most cases, nosebleeds and headaches will go away on their own.

People may be able to stop a nosebleed by applying firm pressure to the area near the bone in the nose. Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can usually help get rid of a headache.

However, it is sometimes better to contact the emergency services (dial 911 in the United States) or go to the emergency room immediately. Seek emergency medical attention for headache, nosebleed, and one or more of the following symptoms:

  • fainting
  • confusion
  • paralysis on one side of body
  • fever
  • difficulty speaking
  • trouble walking or performing other movements
  • nausea or vomiting

A person should also seek immediate medical attention if they have:

  • a broken nose
  • bleeding that lasts longer than a few minutes
  • excessive bleeding
  • bleeding that is causing breathing issues

It is best to schedule a visit with a healthcare provider if a person experiences symptoms that:

  • interfere with daily life
  • do not improve despite taking OTC medicine
  • are ongoing
  • are getting worse

Headaches and nosebleeds are common and usually not a cause for concern. If they occur at the same time, it may cause people to worry that they are linked.

However, many everyday factors can cause both of these symptoms, including the common cold and sinus infections. In most cases, a nosebleed will end on its own, and a headache should start to subside with rest and OTC pain relievers.

If a nosebleed, headache, or both are severe, a person should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

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