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Fractured Nose [With X-Ray]

You have a fracture (break) in the nasal bone. It may be a minor hairline crack or a major break with the parts pushed out of place. A fractured nose causes pain, swelling and nasal stuffiness. Sometimes, there is also bleeding from the nose. By the next day, it is common to get bruising around the eyes from a broken nose.

A minor fracture will heal in about 3-4 weeks with no additional treatment needed. A major break, causing a change in shape of the nose, will require straightening of the nasal bones (reduction) by an ENT doctor (nose specialist). Some fractures may need a reduction as soon as possible (such as those with continued bleeding). Otherwise, it is best to wait a few days until the swelling has gone down. This gives a better result since the doctor can easily see when the nose is back in the right position.

Home Care:

  • Apply an ice pack (ice cubes in a plastic bag, wrapped in a towel) over the injured area for 20 minutes every 1-2 hours the first day. Continue with ice packs 3-4 times a day for the next two days, then as needed for the relief of pain and swelling.

  • Notify your doctor if you are taking aspirin or blood thinners (coumadin). These will promote nose bleeding. Your dose may need to be adjusted.

  • You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to control pain, unless another medicine was prescribed. [NOTE: If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.]

  • Avoid alcohol and hot liquids for the next two days. Alcohol or hot liquids in your mouth can dilate blood vessels in your nose and cause bleeding.

  • Avoid blowing your nose for the first two days. Then, do so gently so you don't cause bleeding.

  • Do not play contact sports in the next six weeks unless you can protect your nose from re-injury. Special custom-fitted plastic face masks are available for this purpose.

Follow Up

with your doctor or as advised. If your nose appears crooked or if you continue to have difficulty breathing through one or both sides of your nose after the swelling goes down, call the ENT doctor (nose specialist) for an appointment. If you have trouble getting an ENT appointment, call your regular doctor or return here. If the bones are out of place, a reduction should be done between 6-10 days after the injury in adults; and between 3-7 days after injury in children. After that time, the bones become more difficult to move back into position.

[NOTE: Any X-rays taken will be reviewed by a radiologist. You will be notified if there are new findings that may affect your care.]

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Bleeding from the nose that is not controlled by pinching the nostrils together for 15 minutes

  • Increasing facial swelling, pain or redness

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Unable to breathe from both sides of the nose after swelling goes down

  • Sinus pain

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Severe or worsening headache or dizziness

  • Unusual drowsiness, or unable to awaken as usual

  • Confusion or change in behavior or speech

  • Convulsion (seizure)