A broken nose, also called a nasal fracture or nose fracture, is
a break or crack in the bone or cartilage of your nose. These breaks typically
occur over the bridge of the nose or in the septum, which is the area that
divides your nostrils.
causes a 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
can you tell if your nose is broken?
The symptoms of a broken nose include:
- pain in or around your nose
- a bent or crooked nose
- a swollen nose or swelling around your nose,
which can cause your nose to look bent or crooked even if it’s not broken
- bleeding from your nose
- a stuffy nose that won’t drain, which can mean
your nasal passages are blocked
- bruising around your nose and eyes, which
usually disappears after two or three days
- a rubbing or grating sound or feeling when you
move your nose
requiring immediate medical treatment
Call 911 or seek immediate medical treatment if you break your
nose and have any of the following symptoms:
- Your nose is bleeding heavily and won’t stop.
- You have clear fluid draining from your nose.
- You are having difficulty breathing.
- Your nose looks crooked or misshapen. (Don’t try
to straighten your nose yourself.)
If you suspect you have a head or neck injury, avoid moving to
prevent further damage.
at risk for a broken nose?
Accidents can happen to anyone, so everyone has a risk of
experiencing a broken nose at some point in their lives. Certain activities,
however, can increase your risk of a nasal fracture.
People who participate in most contact sports are at increased
risk for a broken nose. Some contact sports include:
- martial arts
Other activities that can put you at risk include:
- being involved in a physical altercation
- riding in a motor vehicle, especially if you don’t
wear a seat belt
- riding a bicycle
Groups at higher
Some groups are automatically at a higher risk for a broken
nose, regardless of their participation in sports or other physical activities.
They are children and older adults. Bone health is a particular concern for
both groups, and falls are also common among them.
Children are at a higher risk for nose fractures, as they’re
still building bone mass. Toddlers and young children are particularly vulnerable.
The proper gear should always be worn during
contact sports and physical activities.
is a 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
damage to your nose and face.
a broken nose treated?
Depending on your symptoms, you may need immediate medical
treatment or you may be able to perform first aid at home and see a doctor at
First aid at
If you don’t have symptoms that warrant immediate medical
treatment, there are a few things you can do at home before seeing your doctor:
- If your nose is bleeding, sit down and lean
forward while breathing through your mouth. This way, the blood doesn’t drain
down your throat.
- If you’re not bleeding, elevate your head to
reduce throbbing pain.
- To reduce swelling, apply a cold compress or ice
wrapped in a washcloth to your nose for 15 to 20 minutes, three or four times a
- Take acetaminophen
(Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil,
Motrin) to relieve pain.
It’s ideal if facial trauma is evaluated immediately to fully
assess the extent of injuries. People often don’t realize all of the structures
that can be affected by facial injury and a broken nose. It’s easier to fix a
broken or fractured nose within one to two weeks of the injury.
Not all broken noses require medical treatment. If your injuries
are severe enough, your doctor may do one of the following:
- pack your nose with gauze and possibly place a
splint on it
- prescribe pain medication and possibly
- perform a closed reduction surgery, in which
your doctor gives you a local anesthetic to numb your nose and manually
- perform a rhinoplasty, which is a surgery to
realign your nose
- perform a septorhinoplasty, which is a surgery
to repair your nasal septum
Closed reduction, rhinoplasty, and septorhinoplasty aren’t
usually performed until three to 10 days after your injury, after the swelling
Medical treatment may not be necessary when only minor fractures
with no misalignment are present. However, assessment by a doctor is always
needed so they can determine if and what treatment is appropriate. Moderate to
severe injuries may require surgery.
Surgery should happen within 14 days of injury, and pain and
discomfort from the surgery should start to decrease within 72 hours of the
Different medical treatments will vary in costs, affected by
factors including the extent of treatment and your insurance. If caused by an
injury, rhinoplasty is covered under most insurance policies, as are diagnostic
expenses such as X-rays and examinations with a doctor.
You can take these precautions to reduce the risk of a broken
- Wear shoes with good traction to prevent falls.
- During contact sports, wear protective face gear to prevent
injuries to your nose.
- Wear a helmet when riding a bike or operating a motorcycle.
- Wear your seatbelt while riding in a motor vehicle, and make
sure children are properly restrained.
your nose be the same?
Your broken nose will most likely heal without any problems. If
you’re unhappy with the way your nose looks after it heals or if you’re having
difficulty breathing normally, reconstructive nose surgery is an option.