Man with broken linksA broken nose, also referred to as a nose fracture or nasal fracture, is generally caused by an impact to the nasal region. This type of impact can occur during many different activities:

  • Falling down

  • Walking into an object

  • Participating in contact sports

  • Being in a motor vehicle accident

  • Engaging in a physical altercation

Symptoms of a Broken Nose

But what is a broken nose? Simply put, a broken nose is a crack or break in the bone or cartilage of your nose. Unfortunately, the swelling that generally occurs with a nasal impact can make it difficult to determine if your nose has actually been broken. This swelling can also make your nose look crooked even if it has not been broken. Symptoms of a broken nose:

  • Nose pain or tenderness

  • Swelling of your nose and/or nasal region

  • Bruising around your nose and/or eyes

  • Bleeding from your nose

  • Clear fluid draining from your nose

  • Nasal passage or passages that are blocked

  • A bent or crooked appearance of your nose

  • Difficulty breathing through your nose

  • Grating sounds or feelings when your nose is rubbed or touched

Seek immediate medical attention for these symptoms:

  • Bent or crooked appearance

  • Persistent bleeding

  • Clear fluid drainage

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Grating sounds or feelings

First Aid Treatment for a Broken Nose

If the symptoms do not necessitate immediate medical attention (see above), you can treat many of the symptoms at home.

Symptom: Bleeding Nose

In order to keep the blood from draining down your throat, you should sit down, lean your head forward, and breath through your mouth. If the bleeding is not accompanied by pain, you can gently apply pressure to the soft part of your nose for about 10 minutes. If bleeding cannot be stopped, seek immediate medical attention!

Symptom: Pain and Swelling

Wrap a cold compress or ice in a washcloth and apply it to your nose for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce pain and swelling. This can be repeated up to four times per day. If your nose is not bleeding, elevate your head to reduce pain. You can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) to treat the pain; read and follow the instructions on the label. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil) or aspirin should not be taken for at least 48 hours after a nose injury.

Medical Treatment for a Broken Nose

Your doctor can diagnose a broken nose using a physical examination. However, they may choose to evaluate your condition after the swelling has gone down, which generally takes 3 to 10 days. However the bones will heal together usually at 2 weeks, so if early intervention is going to be successful, you need to be seen before then. When severe pain is present, your doctor may use a local anesthetic to numb the nasal area before the examination. Additionally, they may perform X-rays or a CT scan if they suspect there may be other facial injuries or fractures. Medical treatments for a broken nose are determined by the severity of the injury and could entail:

  • Placing a splint on your nose

  • Packing your nose with gauze to treat bleeding

  • Performing or recommending broken nose surgery to realign your nose or repair your nasal septum

A broken nose will most likely heal without any problems. However, some people are unhappy with the way their nose looks after it has healed or they may have difficulty breathing normally. If either of these circumstances occurs, a reconstructive nose surgery, known as rhinoplasty can be performed.

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