Anime nosebleed scientifically explained!

Yes, this is a serious post. A couple of days ago I, and surely many of you, came across the posts by Glo and kluxorious which talked about nosebleed in anime and a lot of people raised questions regarding the rationale behind this condition. Yesterday coincidentally, I was in the Emergency department and met three ladies who entered the room with their hands covering their noses and their clothes stained with fresh blood. It seems like I just have to post something about this and though this post might end up pretty lame, here I go.

About nosebleed in general

Nosebleed or Epistaxis is, obviously, a bleeding from the nose. It mostly occurs in the anterior part of the nasal cavity where there is rich vascular supply (the area is called ‘Little’s area’) and these blood vessels lie very close to the surface. Thus, with minor triggers like cold/dry weather, rhinitis, nose blowing, nose picking or high blood pressure, nosebleed can occur to anyone. In some cases, nosebleed is caused by systemic condition that impairs the mechanism which is supposed to help stop the bleeding automatically (hemostasis) such as the disease of blood vessels, disorder of platelets or coagulation factors. Certain drugs also make you bleed more easily.

How to take care of it

Like bleeding in any part of the body, the first and mostly effective method is to compress the bleeding site. Stay upright and lean forward so that the blood doesn’t pour down into your throat and pinch your nose for five to ten minutes. Applying an ice pack also helps because the cold makes the vessels constrict and slows the bleeding. If this simple measure fails, you should seek medical attention because other intervention like nasal packing may be needed.

Do I have some rare deadly occult disease?

Nosebleed happens but when it happens unusually often for no obvious reason or when you also have bleeding in other parts of your body, you should see a doctor immediately to find out if you have any hidden dangerous conditions.

rediculously impossible but funny, nevertheless

The big question; what about nosebleed in anime?

I know that there is social and cultural background behind nosebleed in anime but since this post deals with medical issue, I’ll not go into that matter. Medically, it’s just impossible for a young healthy person to have a nosebleed every time he is excited. But I’ll try to explain it anyway. When a person is excited, his body responds by increasing the metabolism (through sympathetic system) and subsequently, the body temperature and heart rate rise. In respond to the increased temperature, the vessels dilate. Plus, as a result of higher heart rate, the blood pressure becomes higher. When you have a ballooned blood vessels and high pressure inside, it’s not so surprising that the part where blood vessels are abundant and weak (remember the Little’s area?) is very prone to bleeding. Does that make any sense?

If you want to tell me that ‘I am too serious and this is futile’, don’t say it because I already know that, O_o

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50 responses to “Anime nosebleed scientifically explained!

  1. SCIENCE!

    It’s still quite a stretch for nosebleeds to be as common as in anime, but thanks for showing that there is some remote medical rationale behind it. I had always assumed it had no medical component whatsoever. Your about page says that your real life is secret, but if I may ask, what general field/type of job do you have that involves this medical knowledge and working somewhere that I assume is a hospital?

    • I was trying to do the impossible but it was still really fun.
      My About page hasn’t been updated in, well, a year probably. And yes, I work in a hospital as a rookie intern. Seems like the more I write, the more info leaked -_-

  2. FUCKING AWESOME! OUTSTANDING!

  3. Oh, okay! Now I can finally kick that old misconception to the curb. I guess my teacher wasn’t that far off, since increased heart rate due to exciting stimuli and the subsequently high blood pressure does make the vessels taut. I still blame her though for making me wrong all these years.

    Anyhow, thanks for getting me one step closer to true enlightenment. Whatever that is. I was thinking though, since nosebleeds in anime have become so symbolic producers probably don’t even think about it anymore, isn’t it much more symbolically accurate if characters’ eyes bleed instead?

    lol @ auto generated related post.

  4. Dammit that’s dangerous. It’s either you die from the amount of blood lost or of the high blood pressure. Not really reassuring, isn’t it.

    I hope Kouta read this post.

  5. Interesting. I guess nosebleed in anime is just a visual gag to exaggerate the excitement of an aroused male and isn’t meant to reflect reality (just like any other cartoonish trait). I haven’t had a nosebleed since elementary school, and then it was only because something would hit me on the nose. Hopefully I won’t ever have one again =)

    • I think it’s actually a cartoonish gag. I was just trying to make sense out of it for fun. I never have a nosebleed before no matter how hard I pick my nose. But then again, I’ve never get hit in the nose -_-

  6. Nosebleed is such a great comedy source in anime, It’s just splendid when someone noesebleeds and others think of it as dying(Baka to Test), but honestly, best Nosebleed motives were in Maria Holic.

    Cool, so it can be explained in some way! Although I’m quite sure that the temperature and heartbeat rate needed to make nose bleed of excitement would most likely lead to a heart attack xd

    • It was the best explaination I could come up so far.
      Now I have to watch Maria Holic you mentioned (despite all the hateful bashing from all around)

      • A lot of yuri motives, but it’s there for comedy purposes only. Also, I’m surprised that it gets so low ratings while it’s very close to Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei’s kind of humour. Either way, recommended!

        That makes me wonder, when was the last time I had a nosebleed… :P

  7. AHhAHAHaha. The title alone was pure WIN!

    Should have seen this was coming after you and Ningyo’s comment exchange over at Glo’s. Lol.

    “Stay upright and lean forward so that the blood doesn’t pour down into your throat and pinch your nose for five to ten minutes”

    Hmm.. We did it differently back in elementary school.
    Anyone with a nosebleed would be leaned backwards instead, with their head tilted all the way back so that their chin is upwards angle. And an icepack on their head.
    Now that I think of it, maybe so that the blood wouldn’t dirty their clothes? -.-”

    Professional opinion please…

    • Thanks for the complement!
      The lean foreward thing is the correct way to deal with nosebleed. It’s in the textbook. Though I kind of understand the pain about trying to get rid of the blood stain from your clothes x_x

  8. You can cough up diet Pepsi through your nose if you get excited enough.

  9. If I remember correctly, you are a med student right?
    Anyway, I guess there is a medical explanation.
    Although, I had thought that sexual arousal is parasympathetic.

    • Basic science is fading from me. Both sympathetic and parasympathetic system are at work during sexual activity. But the sympathetic is more prominent in arousal phase, while the parasympathetic is dominant during ejaculation/orgasm.

      Isn’t this post getting to serious? O_O

      • Not at all. This finally provided an explanation to something that I have always wondered ever since I saw my first nosebleed in manga.

  10. Fortunately that guys don’t bleed each time they see a pantie or every good looking girl on this planet could, in an instant commit a complete genocide by noose-bleeding in their direct surrounding.
    Spooky !!!

    … and too bad i could have use this unique power :D

    But anyway, noose-bleed is very problematic when it occur in a delicate situation like : work :/
    It happened to me because of a drug i had to take.

    • don’t mean to invade your privacy, certain drugs like Warfarin, Plavix or Aspirin, is pretty dangerous to use. Sounds serious!
      But unless you are at least 20 years older than I think you are, that shouldn’t be the case.
      (seriously contemplating…)

  11. I can take of leave nosebleeds in anime. Lots of series overdo them to all hell, and it stops being funny quick. But a well placed nosebleed in a series will get me to chuckle occasionally.

    • I agree, nosebleed has been overused and lately, it gets more and more bloody. Though this doesn’t mean that I don’t like blood ;)

  12. Hey! I made a post about nosebleed too. Not the best one out there I may say, taking in consideration my little disgust towards anime that I have right now. Something I am very interested in, is the rapist-bald-guy generic-mob, if u know what I mean. I want that explained. Very common in the 90’s hentai and so on.

    • Oh, really? I’ll make sure I read your post on that.
      About the bald guy thing, well I am not really into hentai(at least in the 90s) so I don’t have much info regarding that. ummm.

  13. I’m a bit late, but this was very informative. Cheers.

  14. OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Dude, I ALWAYS wonder that when watching Baka To Testo…like seriously…damn I was gonna make a post about that! Lol, meh, I think you covered it MUCH better than I EVER could have. I loved the science, I loved it all. Great job and great post.

  15. Pingback: Scientifically speaking, Anime nosebleed can happen… Kinda :P « Q8GEEKS.ORG

  16. Pingback: Common Health Problems in Anime: how they differ from reality! (part 1) « Canne's anime review blog

  17. Great post!!!

    But I always thought the anime nosebleed was used as censorship of a male anime character of having an erection (or orgasm if the anime character is female).

    • I completely agree with you on the matter. ^^
      I wrote this post trying to explain it scientifically because I thought it would be a fun alternative to the general/social explanation.

  18. I’m pretty sure it made it’s way into anime because of a real-life basis: because the average japanese man suffers high blood pressure because of so much stress from work and pressure to conform (suicides are common) and a love of salty foods…there you go. A lot of spontaneous nosebleeds during strenuous activity eventually get assigned to a person thinking about sex. Spontaneous nosebleeds (Epistaxis)…factors are people of asian decent, and those with high blood pressure/hypertension (which affects most asian men due to high sodium* consumption and stress).

    Think about it: a teaspoon of soy sauce is half the daily recommended amount of safe maximum daily intake. They like salty foods. And candies. They must on average take in 2-3 times the usda recommended safe amount of sodium.

  19. i actually get that kinda nosebleed

  20. What is origin of this?

    • The facts behind nosebleed in general can be found in standard textbook. But the scientific explanation of nosebleed in anime is purely based on my presumption.

  21. wow …. I never knew it. I thought it was the suppression of boner and blood instead going down was going up….
    anyway … I receive so many fists and kicks in face that have nosebleeds daily even if wear protective equipment(I practice kick-boxing)

  22. *looks at third picture* I question if the average human even has that much blood in their entire body.

  23. Nosebleeds… Funny, its been in 3 animes I have watched now, most notably baka and test. I was always wondering why this was. I read a couple other peoples explanations on this, but I like how you did he scientific explanation of it. But ultimately, its not really possible for an average guy to get nosebleeds like this. I wonder why its always the wierd awkward guya who get them, and not the cool guys? Hmmm…

    • It is technically possible, but extremely unlikely. *Late post* And it’s not always the awkward guys; take a look at Soul Eater for example.

  24. I actually had chronic nosebleeds when I was younger. My “little” area was weak and I had anemic issues which stopped my blood from clotting properly. Therefore, I could and often did get nosebleeds for no apparent reason at any given time. Unfortunately I no longer have this issue so I’m unsure if it would occur when I am excited. Haha though it did not happen quite as often as it does in anime. I hope my personal experience furthered your understanding of this quirky phenomenon.

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