11648 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Nose Fracture

    (Broken Nose)

    Definition

    A nose fracture is a break in the bones of the nose.
    Facial Bones
    Nucleus factsheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    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:
      Any condition that causes frequent falls, such as: Previous nose fracture or nose injury
    • Participating in sports (especially contact sports)
    • Reckless behavior during recreational activities or driving
    • Failure to wear a seat belt (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 15-20 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:
    • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
    • Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
    • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
    • Aspirin

    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:
    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.

    RESOURCES

    American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery http://www.cosmeticsurgery.org/index.cfm/

    American Academy of Family Physicians http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home.html/

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Canadian Family Physician http://www.cfpc.ca/

    The Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons http://www.plasticsurgery.ca/

    References

    American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home.html . Accessed July 16, 2009.

    Berkow R. The Merck Manual of Medical Information . New York, NY: Pocket; 2000.

    Broken nose. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/broken-nose/DS00992 . Updated July 2009. Accessed October 2010.

    Nasal fracture. National Center for Emergency Medicine Informatics website. Available at: http://www.ncemi.org/cse/cse0310.htm . Accessed July 21, 2009.

    Nasal fractures. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/Nasal-Fractures.cfm . Accessed September 19, 2011.

    Rosen P, Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, Adams J. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice . 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA; Mosby Elsevier; 2006.

    Rother T, Riechelmann H, Gronau S. Secondarily accelerated foreign bodies as a source of danger from airbag deployment. HNO . 2006;54:967-970.

    Revision Information

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