Will Bacon Stop a Nosebleed?

Believe It or Not, this is a Serious Question

Could this be the most amazing home remedy for nosebleeds?. (c) Nathan Blaney/Getty Images


Will bacon stop a nosebleed?

I once saw an interesting note from the dispatcher on a patient requesting an ambulance: Patient has placed bacon in nose to attempt to stop the bleeding. I had to do a double-take when I read it. Bacon as a cure for bleeding?!? I guess that brings a whole new meaning to clogging your arteries.


Maybe. If it's cured bacon (couldn't resist). Seriously it might, but it's not a good idea.

This myth is not without a bit of medical legitimacy, which gives it legs. It seems there was an article published in 2011 about using salted pork (similar to bacon, but not smoked) to stop epistaxis (medical jargon for nosebleed) in a 4 year old with a rare bleeding disorder. Apparently, the trick was used at least twice for this child and it worked both times.

That's pretty cool, I have to admit. It turns out that docs used salted pork in the old days fairly regularly to pack a bleeding nose. So much so that in a letter to the editor of the Archives of Otolaryngology in 1976, Dr. Jan J. Weisberg wrote about treating a patient with another rare bleeding disorder. Dr. Weisberg mentions casually in the letter that the man "was discharged with salt pork packing still in his nose."

Dr. Weisberg's point had to do with a medical procedure called "embolization of the internal maxillary arteries" and the salted pork was really just setting the stage.

Nobody was questioning the use of meat as a treatment modality.

When the 2011 article was published, headlines sprang up everywhere proclaiming bacon as the cure for nosebleeds. The article was often misrepresented as research rather than a case study and one piece on huffingtonpost.com even said bacon "is one of the best cures out there for a bloody nose."

I wouldn't say one of the best cures. In fact, emergency departments regularly stuff tampons in bleeding nares with pretty good results.

But bacon is not salted pork and both have a few unsavory (pardon the pun) properties. The most dangerous is the potential for bacteria or parasites. By definition, if you are packing your nostrils with uncooked bacon to treat bleeding, there're some broken mucous membranes up there. It's a perfect opportunity for bacteria on the bacon to swim upstream and cause an infection.

Parasites such as trichinella can also be present in uncooked bacon or pork. It's very rare in the United States--at least in commercially produced pork--but I doubt I'd be comfortable stuffing raw meat up my snout anyway.

The Bottom Line

So, can salted pork or bacon be used as a nasal tampon to fix a nosebleed? I suppose the official answer is yes, but I absolutely do not recommend it. By the way, those medical folks who mention salted pork as a medical epistaxis treatment were not talking about treating nosebleeds from getting kicked in the face.

These were rare anemic bleeding disorders.

If you want to treat a nosebleed, hold pressure on it. If that's not good enough to stop your bleeding nose, you might need to see a doctor. If he suggests a swine option, I'd get a second opinion.


Humphreys I, Saraiya S, Belenky W, Dworkin J. "Nasal packing with strips of cured pork as treatment for uncontrollable epistaxis in a patient with Glanzmann thrombasthenia." Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2011 Nov;120(11):732-6

Weisberg JJ. "Letter: Rendu-Osler-Weber disease--is embolization beneficial?" Arch Otolaryngol. 1976 Jun;102(6):385.

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