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Nose Fracture
(Broken Nose)

Definition:
A nose fracture is a break in the bones of the nose.

Causes:
A broken nose is caused by a blunt, hard blow to the nose. It often occurs along with injuries to other parts of the nose and face.

Risk Factors:
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease, condition, or injury. Risk factors for a nose fracture include:
  • Previous nose fracture or nose injury
  • Participating in sports (especially contact sports)
  • Reckless behavior during recreational activities or driving
  • Failure to wear a seatbelt
Symptoms:
Symptoms of a broken nose include:
  • Pain in the nose or surrounding area of the face
  • Swelling of the nose or surrounding area of the face
  • Bleeding from the nose (often heavy)
  • Discoloration of the nose
  • Black eyes
  • Crooked or misshapen appearance of the nose (may not appear until swelling subsides)
Diagnosis:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred, and examine your nose for:
  • Irregularities in the shape
  • Movement of the bones of the nose
  • Rough sensation when your nose is moved
  • Pain or tenderness to touch

Unless there is an obvious deformity, it is often necessary to wait several days for the swelling to subside before a broken nose can be diagnosed.

Tests will include:

  • X-ray of the nose–to confirm the fracture and check its location and severity
Treatment:
Treatment includes:

Ice–Apply ice or a cold pack to your nose for 15-20 minutes, several times a day for several days. This helps reduce pain and swelling. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin.

Medication–The following drugs help reduce inflammation and pain:

  • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Aspirin

Setting the Bones–The doctor may:

  • Drain any blood that may have collected in the septum
  • Set the fracture by:
    • Moving the bone back to its normal position
    • Stabilizing the bone with gauze packing on the inside and a splint or tape on the outside

Surgery–Surgery to set the fracture may be needed if:

  • The fracture is severe
  • The nose is severely misshapen
  • The fracture impairs breathing
Prevention:
Broken noses may not always be preventable. To reduce your risk of a broken nose:
  • Wear protective headgear with face masks when playing contact sports, or when riding a bicycle or motorcycle.
  • Wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a car.
 
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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