Did I Break My Nose?

April 28, 2024

by  | Apr 28, 2024 | Walk In Clinic

Breaking a nose might seem like an unusual injury, but it’s quite common. Nearly 50,000 people in the U.S. experience this each year. In fact, nasal fractures account for 40-50% of all facial fractures. Given how prominently the nose sticks out, it’s often the first point of contact during a fall or impact.

Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Nose

The nose is composed of a bony bridge and a cartilaginous septum that divides the nostrils. A fracture can occur in either part. Recognizing the symptoms of a broken nose is essential for timely treatment. Here’s what to look for:

  1. Facial Swelling: Typically the first sign of a fracture.
  2. Nosebleeds: Bleeding from the nostrils.
  3. Blocked Nasal Passages: Difficulty breathing through the nose.
  4. Crooked Nose Bridge: Visible deformity or crookedness.
  5. Bruising and Tenderness: Pain and bruising around the nose and eyes, often leading to “black eyes.”
  6. Pain on Touch: Pain when the nose is touched.
  7. Crunching Sound: A crackling noise when touching the nose.
  8. Mucus Discharge: Unusual discharge from the nostrils.

Treatment for Broken Noses

The treatment for a broken nose depends on the type and severity of the fracture. Here’s what you need to know:

Diagnosis

  • Physical Examination: Often sufficient for diagnosing a nasal fracture.
  • X-rays and CT Scans: Used in severe cases to assess additional facial bone injuries.

Non-Displaced Fractures

If the bones remain aligned, treatment includes:

  • Icing: Apply ice to reduce swelling.
  • Pain Management: Use over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • Elevation: Keep your head elevated to minimize pressure on the nose.

Displaced Fractures

For fractures where the bones are out of place, treatment may involve:

  • Manual Adjustment: Doctors may realign the nose using special instruments.
  • Closed Nasal Reduction: A surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia within 14 days of the injury. This involves rebreaking and realigning the nose, followed by applying a splint to maintain alignment during healing.

Potential Complications

Complications from a broken nose can include:

  • Septal Hematoma: Blood pooling in the nasal cavity, requiring drainage.
  • Septal Perforation: A hole in the septum that can lead to the collapse of the nasal bridge.

Care Tips for a Broken Nose

Do’s

  • Ice Regularly: Apply ice four times a day for 10-15 minutes each during the first 48 hours.
  • Keep Head Elevated: Use extra pillows while sleeping.
  • Use Pain Relievers: Take over-the-counter medications as needed.
  • Avoid Pressure: Minimize pressure on your nose.

Don’ts

  • Self-Treatment: Do not attempt to straighten your nose yourself.
  • Avoid Glasses: Refrain from wearing glasses unless necessary.
  • No Nose Picking/Blowing: Avoid these actions until your nose heals.
  • Limit Physical Activity: Avoid strenuous exercise and contact sports for several weeks.

When to Visit AFC

Seek medical attention if you experience:

  • High fever.
  • Persistent pain despite taking pain relievers.
  • Swelling that doesn’t reduce after three days.
  • Crooked nose appearance.
  • Breathing difficulties after swelling subsides.
  • Continuous nosebleeds.
  • Unusual tastes, such as salty or metallic, in your mouth.

While a broken nose often isn’t a medical emergency, prompt medical attention is crucial to prevent complications like infections or long-term deformities. Taking care of your nose post-injury and following medical advice will help ensure a smooth recovery. And remember, keeping your surroundings free of potential hazards can help prevent future accidents.

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