Definition

What is a broken nose?

A broken nose, also called a nasal fracture, is a break or crack in a bone in your nose — often the bone over the bridge of your nose.

Common causes of a broken nose include contact sports, physical fights, falls and motor vehicle accidents that result in facial trauma. A broken nose can cause pain, along with swelling and bruising around your nose and under your eyes. Your nose may look crooked, and you may have trouble breathing.

Treatment for a broken nose may include procedures that realign your nose. Surgery usually isn’t necessary for a broken nose.

How common is a broken nose?

A broken nose is a common injury. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of broken nose?

The common symptoms of broken nose are:

  • Pain or tenderness, especially when touching your nose
  • Swelling of your nose and surrounding areas
  • Bleeding from your nose
  • Bruising around your nose or eyes
  • Crooked or misshapen nose
  • Difficulty breathing through your nose
  • Discharge of mucus from your nose
  • Feeling that one or both of your nasal passages are blocked

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • A head or neck injury, which may be marked by severe headache, neck pain, vomiting or loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bleeding you can’t stop
  • A noticeable change in the shape of your nose that isn’t related to swelling, such as a crooked or twisted appearance
  • Clear, watery fluid draining from your nose

Causes

What causes broken nose?

A sudden impact to your nose is the most common cause of a break. Broken noses often occur with other facial or neck injuries. Common causes of broken noses include:

  • Walking into a wall
  • Falling down
  • Getting hit in the nose during a contact sport
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Getting punched or kicked in the nose

Risk factors

What increases my risk for broken nose?

There are many risk factors for broken nose, such as:

  • Playing contact sports, such as football and hockey, especially without a helmet that has a face mask
  • Engaging in a physical fight
  • Riding a bicycle
  • Lifting weights, especially if you don’t use a spotter
  • Riding in a motor vehicle, especially without a seat belt

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is broken nose diagnosed?

Your doctor can usually diagnose a broken nose by performing a physical examination. This involves looking at and touching your nose and face. If you have a lot of pain, your doctor may apply a local anesthetic to numb your nose before the physical examination.

Your doctor may ask you to return in two or three days once the swelling has gone down and it’s easier to view your injuries. If your nose injury appears to be severe or is accompanied by other facial injuries, your doctor may order an X-ray or CT scan. They can help determine the extent of the damage to your nose and face.

How is broken nose treated?

If you have a minor fracture that hasn’t caused your nose to become crooked or otherwise misshapen, you may not need professional medical treatment. Your doctor may recommend simple self-care measures, such as using ice on the area and taking over-the-counter pain medications.

Fixing displacements and breaks

Your doctor may be able to realign your nose manually, or you may need surgery.

Manual realignment

If the break has displaced the bones and cartilage in your nose, your doctor may be able to manually realign them. This needs to be done within 14 days from when the fracture occurred, preferably sooner.

During this procedure, your doctor:

  • Administers medication by injection or nasal spray to ease discomfort
  • Opens your nostrils with a nasal speculum
  • Uses special instruments to help realign your broken bones and cartilage

Your doctor will also splint your nose using packing in your nose and a dressing on the outside. Sometimes, an internal splint is also necessary for a short time. The packing usually needs to stay in for a week. You’ll also be given a prescription for antibiotics to prevent infection with the bacteria that may normally reside in your nose.

Surgery

Severe breaks, multiple breaks or breaks that have gone untreated for more than 14 days may not be candidates for manual realignment. In these cases, surgery to realign the bones and reshape your nose may be necessary.

If the break has damaged your nasal septum, causing obstruction or difficulty breathing, reconstructive surgery may be recommended. Surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage broken nose?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with broken nose:

  • Act quickly. When the break first occurs, breathe through your mouth and lean forward to reduce the amount of blood that drains into your throat.
  • Use ice. Apply ice packs or cold compresses immediately after the injury, and then at least four times a day for the first 24 to 48 hours to reduce swelling. Keep the ice or cold compress on for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Wrap the ice in a washcloth to prevent frostbite. Try not to apply too much pressure, which can cause additional pain or damage to your nose.
  • Relieve pain. Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, others), as necessary.
  • Keep your head up. Elevate your head — especially when sleeping — so as not to worsen swelling and throbbing.
  • Limit your activities. For the first two weeks after treatment, don’t play any sports. Avoid contact sports for at least six weeks after your injury.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: September 13, 2017 | Last Modified: September 13, 2017

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