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HomeENT conditions › Broken Nose Causes & Symptoms

Broken Nose Causes & Symptoms

What is a broken nose?

A broken nose (nasal bone fracture) describes a fractured bone in the roof of the nose. A broken nose is extremely painful right after the trauma causing it and can profoundly bleed. A person with a broken nose almost always develops problems with nasal breathing.

What causes a broken nose?

Broken noses are often the result of facial trauma due to sports, physical fights, falling from a height and traffic accidents.

What are some broken nose symptoms?

Common signs of a broken nose include hearing a cracking noise when the trauma happens, profound nose bleeds immediately thereafter, misshaped nose, swelling and hematoma on and around the nose as well as pain and nasal passageway obstruction.

When should I see a doctor?

If any of the following conditions occur, emergency medical assistance should be sought right away: unstoppable nosebleed, loss of consciousness, clear fluid draining from the nasal passageway, double vision, loss of vision and difficulties to open or close the jaw.

What are the risk factors for a broken nose?

The most common cause for a broken nose is facial injury due to a forceful impact. Some of the risk factors that increase the chances of facial injury and broken nose are playing contact sports, especially without a helmet or protective facial gear, aggressive physical behavior, such as fist fights, riding without a seatbelt in traffic, riding bicycle or motorcycle without a helmet.

What are some broken nose treatment options?

In some cases, a broken nose can lead to other, more serious, conditions. These include a deviated septum or nasal obstruction due to blood collection. It is important to see a medical professional in order to get an accurate diagnosis and avoid other long-term complications.

If symptoms only involve minor swelling and bruising, patients can choose to wait a couple days for swelling to subside before seeing a professional. However, it is always advisable to consult with a physician within a few days of the injury.

When diagnosing a broken nose, ENT doctors may use an endoscope to look inside of the nose for obstructions and signs of broken and dislocated bones. During the exam, patients may be given a local anesthetic and local decongestant spray to ease discomfort.

In some cases, x-rays or computerized tomography (CT) scans may be recommended by your doctor. This is generally only needed when injuries are severe enough that may require surgical intervention.

How is a broken nose treated?

Immediate action can always be taken when the break first occurs, before seeing a doctor. At-home treatments may be used to stop nosebleed, to treat pain and to reduce swelling before you are able to see a doctor. When nose fractures are severe, a doctor may need to realign the bone or take other medical action.

At home care for broken nose includes: breathe through your mouth, apply decongestant nose spray (Afrin®, Otrivine®), ice of the area, keep your head elevated and avoid physical activities.

Professional medical care for broken nose include:

  • Manual realignment – this procedure is performed within 7 days of the trauma and is usually required when a break has misaligned the bones or cartilage in the nose. During the procedure, an ENT specialist will administer pain medication to ease discomfort.
  • Surgery for a broken nose – surgery is required when a break is severe or occurred more than 7 days prior to seeking treatment from an ENT surgeon. Patients recommended for nasal realignment surgery are usually suffering from nasal deformity, nasal obstruction or deviated septum that is capable of causing long-term nasal breathing problems due to the trauma.

If you are suffering from a broken nose, you may want to schedule an evaluation with an experienced ear, nose and throat doctor.

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