Q. When I was a kid, I would get very bad nosebleeds. If nothing else worked, my mother would get out her keys and drop them down the back of my neck. I wish I knew why it worked it worked so well.

A. We have heard from many people who have had success stopping nosebleeds with keys or a cold butter knife against the back of the neck. We don’t know why this trick works, but one reader offered the following from his experience as a medic doing water rescue:

“The keys work because of the mammalian dive reflex. Cold hits the nerves in the neck, causing the blood vessels to constrict. You might notice your pulse slowing too.

“The dive reflex is why cold-water drowning victims are not usually pronounced dead until they are ‘warm and dead.’ Cold water only in the face/head area shunts blood to the organs and away from the skin and slows the metabolism for survival. The vital signs are often too weak to detect.”

This hypothesis sounds plausible to us. We can’t offer a better one.

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  1. Tammy

    Anything cold will work. I’ve had success using ice packs, keys, a large metal kitchen serving spoon. Stops my nosebleeds within a couple of minutes. I get best results when the cold object lies against my back between my shoulder blades, or slightly lower.

  2. Erin

    This is extreemly unclear – what does “drop them down the back of my neck” mean? I interpret it to mean dangle them DOWN someone’s throat??? Could that be possible? Seems quite a choking risk to me!
    Please DO NOT put keys down your throat! EEEEK!
    That is not how the home remedy works. If you think back of your neck (external…NOT internal) you could imagine putting a bunch of keys down your shirt so that they touch your neck.
    Take a look at the photo on our Web site for clarification. Go to our home page http://www.peoplespharmacy.com and look on the left hand ribbon for the link to Home Remedies. When you get to the Home Remedies link, click on page two for the heading “Keys for Nosebleeds” and read the complete article. This should clarify the situation…we hope!

  3. JG

    I just tried this and it worked. I suffer from nose bleeds all winter due to the forced heat and every time I sneeze, I get a gusher. My friend told me about this and sure enough, within a few minutes, it stopped.

  4. dj

    I take coumadin and get frequent nose bleeds. Some are like water running. I tried the keys and this worked!

  5. Anonymous

    I had daily nosebleeds for 20+ years and this didn’t even work once for me.

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