A broken nose, also called a nasal fracture, is a break or crack in a bone in your nose — often the bone over the bridge of your nose.
Common causes of a broken nose include contact sports, physical fights, falls and motor vehicle accidents that result in facial trauma.
Signs and symptoms of a broken nose include pain, swelling and bruising around your nose and under your eyes. Your nose may look crooked, and you may have difficulty breathing.
Treatment for a broken nose may include procedures to realign your nose. Surgery usually isn't necessary for a broken nose.
Signs and symptoms of a broken nose may appear immediately or may take up to three days to develop. Signs and symptoms may include:
When to see a doctor
Common causes of a broken nose include:
A broken nose can even be caused by walking into a fixed object, such as a door or wall, or by rough, wrestling-type play.
Locations of the nasal bone and cartilage
Your nose is supported by bone (at the back and bridge) and by cartilage (in the front). ...
Any activity that increases your risk of a facial injury increases your risk of a broken nose. Such activities may include:
Complications or injuries related to a broken nose may include:
A deviated septum occurs when your nasal septum is significantly displaced to one side, making one nasal air passage smaller than the other. ...
Preparing for your appointment
If your injury is severe, you'll need to seek immediate medical attention and won't have time to prepare for your appointment. But, if the injury to your nose is less severe — accompanied only by swelling and moderate pain — you may choose to wait before seeing your doctor. This allows time for the swelling to subside, so you and your doctor can better evaluate your injury.
However, it's best not to wait longer than three to five days before seeing your doctor if your signs and symptoms persist. And, during this waiting period, get medical attention if:
When you make an appointment, you'll probably start by seeing your family doctor or general practitioner. However, he or she is likely to refer you to a doctor who specializes in disorders of the ear, nose and throat.
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and to know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For a broken nose, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
What to expect from your doctor
What you can do in the meantime
Tests and diagnosis
Your doctor may press gently on the outside of your nose and its surrounding areas. He or she may look inside your nasal passage to check for obstruction and further signs of broken bones. Your doctor may use anesthetics — either a nasal spray or local injections — to make you more comfortable during the exam.
X-rays and other imaging studies are usually unnecessary. However, your doctor may recommend a computerized tomography (CT) scan if the severity of your injuries makes a thorough physical exam impossible or if your doctor suspects you may have other injuries.
Treatments and drugs
If you have a minor fracture that hasn't caused your nose to become crooked or otherwise misshapen, you may not need professional medical treatment. Your doctor may recommend simple self-care measures, such as using ice on the area and taking over-the-counter pain medications.
Fixing displacements and breaks
During this procedure, your doctor:
If the break has damaged your nasal septum, causing obstruction or difficulty breathing, reconstructive surgery called septorhinoplasty may be recommended.
Both surgeries typically are performed on an outpatient basis. Discomfort, swelling and bruising — common side effects — usually improve significantly after about one week.
At left, a woman's nose before rhinoplasty. On the right, the same woman pictured one year after the surgery. ...
Lifestyle and home remedies
If you think you may have broken your nose, take these steps to reduce pain and swelling before seeing your doctor:
You can help prevent a nose fracture with these guidelines:
Last Updated: 2011-07-06
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