Your nose is made up of two bones at the bridge of your nose and a long piece of cartilage (flexible but strong tissue) that gives your nose its shape.
You have a nasal fracture. This means the bony part of your nose has been broken. Most broken noses are caused by trauma such as sport injuries, car accidents or fistfights.
More about Your Injury
If your nose is crooked from the injury you may need a reduction in order to put the bones back in place. If the break is easy to fix, a reduction can be done in the doctor’s office. If the break is more severe, you may need surgery to fix it.
You may have a hard time breathing through your nose because the bones may be out of place or there is a lot of swelling.
What to Expect
You may have one or all of these symptoms of a broken nose:
- Swelling on the outside and on the bridge of your nose.
- A crooked shape to your nose.
- Bleeding from either inside or outside of the nose.
- Difficulty breathing through your nose.
- Bruising around one or both eyes.
Your doctor may need to get an x-ray or a CT scan of your nose to see if you have a fracture.
If you have a nosebleed that does not stop, the doctor may insert a soft gauze pad called packing into the bleeding nostril.
If you need to have a surgery, you will need to wait until most or all of the swelling has gone down, usually 3 - 6 days after your injury.You may be referred to a special doctor -- such as a plastic surgeon or an ear, nose, and throat doctor -- if the injury is more severe.
For simple breaks, a reduction may be done at the emergency room or doctor’s office without the need for surgery.
For simple breaks, in which the nasal bone is not crooked, the doctor may prescribe only pain medication, ice, and nasal decongestants.
To keep pain and swelling down:
- Rest -- try to keep away from any activity where you could bump your nose.
- Ice your nose for 20 minutes 2 - 3 times a day. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
- Take pain medicine if necessary.
- Keep your head elevated.
For pain, you can use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), or acetaminophen (Tylenol). You can buy these pain medicines at the store.
- Talk with your health care provider before using these medicines if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, or have had stomach ulcers or internal bleeding in the past.
- Do not take more than the amount recommended on the bottle or by your health care provider.
You can keep doing most daily activities, but be cautious when doing them. Try not to lift anything heavy unless your doctor says its okay. If you have a cast or splint, wear this until your doctor says its okay to take it off.
You may have to avoid sports for a period of weeks. When your doctor clears you to play again, make sure to wear protective gear to guard your face and nose.
Self Care at Home
Do not remove any packing or splints without your doctors orders.
For stuffiness, take hot showers to breathe in the steam. This will help break up mucus and clear any dried blood or mucus that builds up after surgery.
For any dried blood or drainage, you may need to clean the inside of your nose. Use a cotton swab dipped in warm soapy water and carefully wipe the inside of each nostril.
If you take any medications nasally, talk to your doctor before using any of these medications.
Follow up with your doctor 1 - 2 weeks after your injury. Based on your injury, your doctor may want to see you more than one time.
When to Call the Doctor
Call the doctor if you have:
- Sudden numbness or tingling
- Sudden increase in pain or swelling
- Any open wound or bleeding
- Injury does not seem to be healing as expected
- Difficulty breathing that does not go away
- Any changes in vision or double vision
Update Date 6/26/2012
Updated by: Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.