Broken Nose – Symptoms and Treatment

A nasal fracture, commonly referred to as a broken nose, is a fracture of one of the bones of the nose. Because of the protrusion of the nose from the face and the fragility of the bones of the nose, a broken nose is one of the most common facial injuries, comprising almost 40% of all facial injuries

Symptoms

Symptoms of a broken nose include bruising, swelling, tenderness, pain, deformity, and/or bleeding of the nose and nasal region of the face. The patient may have difficulty breathing, or excessive nosebleeds (if the nasal mucosa are damaged).

Others:

  • Pain that increases when you touch your nose
  • Bleeding from the nose
  • Swelling and redness that usually changes bruising of the nose and possibly eyes (black eye)
  • The nose may appear crooked
  • Breathing through the nose may be difficult
  • A feeling that your nasal passages are blocked

Diagnosis

Nasal fractures are usually identified visually and through physical examination. A priority is to distinguish simple fractures limited to the nasal bones (Type 1) from fractures that also involve other facial bones and/or the nasal septum (Types 2 and 3). In simple Type 1 fractures X-Rays supply surprisingly little information beyond clinical examination.

However, diagnosis may be confirmed with X-rays or CT scans, and these are required if other facial injuries are suspected. Although treatment of an uncomplicated fracture of nasal bones is not urgent, referral for specific treatment in five to seven days usually suffices, an associated injury, nasal septal hematoma, occurs in about 5% of casesĀ and does require urgent treatment and should be looked for during the assessment of nasal injuries.

What to do:

If you suspect that your nose is broken, then you need to visit your doctor, especially if there is a head or neck injury associated with headaches, neck pain, vomiting, or loss of consciousness. Other reasons to visit your doctor difficulty ‘breathing, bleeding that will not stop or if you notice the nose is crooked or deformed.

The doctor confirms a diagnosis by looking at the signs and symptoms mentioned above and ask you a history of trauma. The doctor’s assessment may include a physical examination. Other tests such as x-rays or a CT (computed tomography) scan may be used if other injuries are suspected.

Treatment

Immediate treatment should include the use of ice or ice packs on the nose to reduce swelling and bleeding. If the bleeding does not slow down or stop, you should be taken to the emergency room. Over-the-counter medicines that contain acetominophen can be taken to relieve pain (avoid aspirin and ibuprofen, which could increase or prolong bleeding).

Minor fractures heal without deformity in 4-6 weeks. Severe fractures may require surgery to realign the nose and restore normal breathing.

Minor nasal fractures may be allowed to heal on their own provided there is not significant cosmetic deformity. Ice and pain medication may be prescribed to ease discomfort during the healing process. For nasal fractures where the nose has been deformed, manual alignment may be attempted, usually with good results. Injuries involving other structures (Types 2 and 3) must be recognized and treated surgically