Definition

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

Facial Bones

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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 (but airbags can also sometimes cause injury)

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)

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.

Treatment

Treatment includes:

Ice

Apply ice or a cold pack to your nose for 15 to 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:

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 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 .

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.