Overview on a broken nose

A broken nose or nasal fracture involves a crack or break in the cartilage or bone of the nose. Generally, the damage occurs over the nasal bridge or within the septum which is the area that divides the nostrils.

What are the usual causes?

Abrupt force on the nose is the typical cause of a broken nose. The injury can also occur with other neck or facial injuries. Other common causes include:

  • Falls
  • Bumping into a wall

    broken-nose
    Swollen nose or swelling of the adjacent area which causes the nose to appear crooked or bent even if it is not damaged.
  • Vehicular accidents
  • The nose was struck during a contact sport
  • Being punched or kicked in the nose

Is my nose broken?

The usual signs of a fractured nose include:

  • Pain in or around the nose
  • Crooked or bent nose
  • Swollen nose or swelling of the adjacent area which causes the nose to appear crooked or bent even if it is not damaged
  • Bruising around the nose and eyes that subsides after 2-3 days
  • Nosebleed
  • Stuffed nose that could not drain which indicates blocked nasal passages
  • Grating or rubbing sound or sensation when the nose is moved

Management

Depending on the signs present, the individual might need first aid care or prompt medical treatment.

First aid

If there are no symptoms that require prompt medical care, the following can be done before a doctor is seen:

  • If the nose is bleeding, the individual should sit down and lean forward while breathing via the mouth. This helps in preventing the blood from draining down the throat.
  • If not bleeding, raise the head to lessen the throbbing pain.
  • Apply a cold compress or ice pack covered with a washcloth on the nose for 15-20 minutes at 3-4 times throughout the day.
  • A pain medication can be given to lessen the discomfort.

Medical care

If the injury to the nose is severe, medical care is necessary which might involve any of the following:

  • Packing of the nose using gauze and possibly using a splint on it
  • Pain medications and probably antibiotics
  • Closed reduction surgery which includes a local anesthetic to numb the nose and it is manually realigned
  • Rhinoplasty or surgical realignment of the nose
  • Septorhinoplasty or surgical repair of the nasal septum

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on a broken nose is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the signs and how it is managed by taking a standard first aid course with Red Deer First Aid.

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