American Hospital Blog

Broken Nose

Broken Nose

A broken nose or nasal fracture happens when a bone in the nose breaks or cracks. Most often, it occurs in the bone over the bridge of the nose.

A broken nose may cause pain, swelling and bruising around the nose and under the eyes. This condition usually results from contact sports, physical fights, falls, and motor vehicle accidents causing facial trauma.

The nose may appear crooked, causing trouble breathing. Procedures that realign the nose are required as treatment for a broken nose, and in most cases, surgery usually isn't needed.

Understand the symptoms

Signs that indicate a broken nose condition include pain or tenderness, especially when touching the nose, bleeding from the nose. The other symptoms are swelling of the nose and surrounding areas, discharge of mucus or feeling that one or both of the nasal passages are blocked, bruising around the nose or eyes, crooked or misshapen nose, and difficulty breathing through the nose.

Consult the doctor

Get medical assistance when you have a nose injury accompanied by:

• Head or neck injury, causing severe headache, neck pain, vomiting or loss of consciousness
• Experience difficulty in breathing
• Bleeding does not stop.
• A striking change in the shape of the nose that isn't related to swelling, like a crooked or twisted appearance
• Clear, watery fluid draining from the nose

Know the causes

The usual causes of a broken nose are an injury from contact sports, like football or hockey, physical altercations, falls or motor vehicle accidents.
It may also occur by walking into a fixed object, like a door or wall, or by a rough, wrestling-type play.

Recognize the risks

• Any activities that raise the risk of a facial injury increase the chance of a broken nose, such as engaging in a physical fight or riding a bicycle or motor vehicle without a seat belt. Playing contact sports like football and hockey, especially without a helmet with a face mask or lifting weights without using a spotter.

Associated complexities

A broken nose can lead to complications like:

• Deviated septum is a condition that happens when the thin wall dividing the two sides of the nose (nasal septum) is displaced, narrowing the nasal passage. Medications, like decongestants and antihistamines, are used to manage a deviated septum, but surgery is needed to rectify the condition.
• Septal hematoma is a condition where a collection of clotted blood is formed in a broken nose, blocking one or both nostrils, which requires prompt surgical drainage to prevent cartilage damage.
• Cartilage fracture is caused by a forceful blow like an automobile accident, resulting in a severe injury to warrant surgical treatment. The surgeon here will address both bone and cartilage injuries.

Measures for prevention

The general preventive measure for a nose fracture are:

• Wear a seat belt when travelling in a motorized vehicle.
• Keep children restrained in age-appropriate child safety seats.
• Wear the recommended safety equipment, like a helmet with a face mask during hockey, football, or other contact sports.
• Wear a helmet during bicycle or motorcycle rides.

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