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.
What Causes a Broken Nose?
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
- 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
How Can You Tell If Your Nose Is Broken?
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
Symptoms 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 will not 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).
you suspect you have a head or neck injury, avoid moving to prevent further
Who Is 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. These include:
- participating in contact sports such as
basketball or hockey
- being involved in a physical altercation
- riding in a motor vehicle, especially if you don’t
wear a seat belt
- riding a bicycle
How Is a Broken Nose Diagnosed?
Your doctor can usually diagnose a broken nose by performing
a physical examination, which 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 to determine the extent of damage to your
nose and face.
How Is 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 Home
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, so the blood doesn’t drain down
- 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.
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 antibiotics
- perform a closed reduction surgery, in which
your doctor gives you a local anesthetic to numb your nose and manually realigns
- 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 are not
usually performed until three to 10 days after your injury, after the swelling
You can take precautions to reduce the risk of a broken
nose. Make sure you wear shoes with good traction to prevent falls. If you play
contact sports, such as football or hockey, always wear protective face gear to
prevent injuries to your nose. It’s also important to wear a helmet when riding
a bike or operating a motorcycle. In addition, wear your seatbelt while riding
in a motor vehicle, and make sure children are properly restrained.
Will 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, talk to your doctor about reconstructive