Is My Nose Broken?

April 28, 2024

by  | Apr 28, 2024 | Emergency Clinic

Is My Nose Broken?

Donning roller skates was a risky endeavor since you’d not been on any in years, and you had been enjoying taking turns around the rink when WHAM! A child who moved like they were born with skates for feet zipped right in front of you. Somewhere in your surprise and your effort to stop, your feet got tangled with each other… and down you went. Now, instead of roller skates, you are sporting a broken nose and two black eyes.

Breaking one’s nose might sound like an extraordinary occurrence, but it’s surprisingly common. Nearly 50,000 individuals in the U.S. experience this nasal mishap annually. Broken noses make up 40-50% of all facial fractures and are the most prevalent facial injury. It’s no surprise. Considering how the nose protrudes from the face, it is not protected during a fall or from hurling objects.

Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Nose

The bridge of the nose is made of bone, but the septum which divides each nostril is made of cartilage. Any crack in either the bone or cartilage is considered a break, or fracture.
Your nose might be broken if you have:

  • Facial swelling
  • Bleeding from your nostrils
  • A feeling of blocked nasal passages with difficulty breathing
  • A crooked bridge of the nose
  • Tenderness and bruising on and around the nose and eyes such as “black eyes”
  • Pain when your nose is touched
  • A crunching or crackling sound when your nose is touched
  • Mucus discharge from the nostrils

Recognizing the signs of a broken nose is crucial for timely intervention and management. If misalignment is an issue, a referral to an otolaryngologist—an ear, nose, and throat specialist—becomes likely, because they possess the specialized knowledge required to treat nasal trauma. To prepare for your doctor’s visit write down what you were doing when the injury occurred and any symptoms, write out your medications and supplements, and bring a photo of yourself before the injury.

Treatment for Broken Noses

Treatment strategies depend upon the nature of the fracture. Physical examinations often suffice for diagnosis as X-rays can be unreliable and make exposure to radiation unnecessary. There are two basic types of nasal fractures: displaced and non-displaced and each has its treatment approach. If a fracture is not displaced, treatment is as simple as icing, taking pain medication, and trying to reduce swelling while trying to keep comfortable.

If there is displacement of the nose, meaning the nose is broken in two or more places, treatment may include realignment. Sometimes this can be done by manipulating the nose and with the use of special instruments, some injuries require a surgical procedure called a ‘closed nasal reduction. For the best results, this is typically done within 14 days of injury in an operating room and under general anesthesia: the nose is rebroken from the outside and manipulated back into alignment as much as possible. A small splint is put on the nose to help keep it aligned and protect it as it heals.

Potential complications of broken noses are septal hematomas —blood pooling and clotting within the nasal cavity—to septal perforations, potentially triggering nasal collapse.

Broken Nose Do’s and Don’ts


  • Ice your nose at least four times a day for 10-15 minutes during the first 24 to 48 hours to keep swelling down. Place a light cloth between your nose and the ice to protect your skin.
  • Keep as much pressure off your nose as possible
  • Sleep with extra pillows to keep your head upright while you sleep.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers as needed.


  • Try to straighten your nose yourself
  • Wear glasses unless they are necessary
  • Pick or blow your nose until it’s healed
  • Exercise strenuously for a couple of weeks
  • Play any sport where your nose may get hit for at least six weeks

When to Call Your Doctor:

  • You have a high fever
  • Painkillers aren’t helping
  • Swelling has not reduced after 3 days
  • Your nose is crooked
  • Breathing through your nose is hard even after the swelling has gone down
  • Your nose keeps bleeding
  • You have a new salty or metallic taste in your mouth

A broken nose seldom constitutes a medical emergency; however, prompt medical attention is necessary. Even seemingly minor fractures have the potential to cause long-term deformities or nasal breathing issues without medical attention.

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