Nose fracture – Definition
A nose fracture is a break in the bones of the nose.
Nose fracture – 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.
Nose fracture – 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:
- Any condition that causes frequent falls, such as:
- Advanced age
- Seizure disorder
- Previous nose fracture or nose injury
- Participating in sports (especially contact sports)
- Reckless behavior during recreational activities or driving
- Failure to wear a seat belt (but airbags can also sometimes cause injury)
Nose fracture – 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)
- Difficulty breathing through the nose or nostril
- Discoloration of the nose
- Black eyes
- Crooked or misshapen appearance of the nose (may not appear until swelling subsides)
Nose fracture – Diagnosis
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred, and will examine your nose and face for:
- Irregularities in the shape
- Movement of the bones of the nose and face
- Rough sensation when your nose is moved
- Pain or tenderness to touch
- Injury to the nasal septum (especially hematoma)
- Any fluid from the nose (such as blood or even cerebrospinal fluid in severe cases)
Tests may include:
- X-rays of the nose — usually not necessary, but may be used to confirm the fracture and check its location and severity.
- CT scan — usually not necessary, but may be used to confirm the fracture and check its location and severity.
Nose fracture – Treatment
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.
The following drugs help reduce inflammation and pain:
- Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
- Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
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 may be needed to set the fracture if:
- The fracture is severe
- The nose is severely misshapen
- The fracture impairs breathing
If you are diagnosed with a nose fracture, follow your doctor’s instructions.
Nose fracture – 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.