Causes of Headaches and Nosebleeds in Children

Question of the Week

A child with a nosebleed
Holding a tissue to your nose isn't going to stop a nosebleed - you have to pinch your nostrils tight for 5 to 10 minutes. GettyImages

Question. My daughter has been getting a lot of headaches lately. And now every time she blows her nose, blood comes out. She has never had nosebleeds and she used to hardly ever get headaches. I don't think that this is too serious, but I would just like to know why this is happening. Kirstie, Arizona

Answer. By themselves, both nosebleeds and headaches are common in children, and are usually not caused by a serious problem.

Headaches and Nosebleeds Are Sometimes Serious

Taken together though, these two symptoms might indicate a more serious problem, like high blood pressure causing both the headaches and the nosebleeds. In an article for the Health Scout News Reporter, William Elliot, MD, a professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Rush University Medical Center, stated that 'nosebleeds and headaches are often the only signs of high blood pressure.'

Another possibility, especially if her nosebleeds are severe, is that the nosebleeds led to her having anemia. A check of her blood counts is a simple way to test for anemia, which may be a good idea, since children with anemia can have headaches.

So you should likely see your pediatrician to have your child's blood pressure checked and possibly getting a complete blood count.

Other red flag symptoms might include:

  • worsening headaches
  • fainting
  • a nosebleed that doesn't stop after 10 to 15 minutes of holding the nostrils closed tightly

    Drowsiness and confusion would be other symptoms that might indicate a child's headaches had a serious cause.

    Headaches and Nosebleeds Usually Aren't Serious

    If her blood pressure is normal and she has no other serious symptoms, then she may be simply having nosebleeds and headaches coincidently.

    And there many conditions, like allergies or a sinus infection, that could cause a child to have both nosebleeds and a headache.


    Dooley, JM. The evaluation and management of paediatric headaches. Paediatr Child Health. 2009 Jan; 14(1): 24–30.

    Elliot, William J., M.D., Ph.D. - HealthScoutNews - High Blood Pressure Strikes Even the Young. Dec. 27, 2002.

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