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Fractured Nose, with X-Ray

You have a broken bone (fracture) in your nose. It may be a minor crack. Or it may be a major break, with the parts of your nose pushed out of place. A fractured nose causes pain, swelling, and nasal stuffiness. You may have bleeding from the nose. By tomorrow, you may have bruising around your eyes.

A minor fracture will heal in 3 to 4 weeks, with no additional treatment needed. A major break that causes a change in shape of your nose will need to be treated by a nose specialist (ENT doctor). The ENT doctor will straighten the bones in your nose (reduction). Some fractures may need a reduction as soon as possible. An example would be when bleeding from the nose doesn’t stop. Otherwise, it is best to wait a few days, until the swelling has gone down. The doctor will then be able to easily see when your nose is back in the right position.

Home care

  • Use an ice pack on your nose for 20 minutes at a time. Do this every 1 to 2 hours the first day. Then use the ice pack 3 to 4 times a day for the next 2 days. After that, use it as needed to ease pain and swelling. You can make your own ice pack by putting ice cubes or crushed ice in a plastic bag. Wrap the bag in a thin towel.

  • Tell your doctor if you are taking aspirin or blood thinners (warfarin). These medicines make it more likely that your nose will bleed. Your doctor may need to change your dose.

  • You may use acetaminophen to control pain, unless another medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your doctor before using this medicine.

  • Don’t drink alcohol or hot liquids for the next 2 days. Alcohol and hot liquids can dilate blood vessels in your nose. This can cause bleeding.

  • Don’t blow your nose for the first 2 days. Then, do so gently so you don't cause bleeding.

  • Don’t play contact sports in the next 6 weeks unless you can protect your nose from getting injured again. You can wear a special custom-fitted plastic face mask to protect your nose.

Special note on concussions

If you had any symptoms of a concussion today, don’t return to sports or any activity that could result in another head injury.

These are symptoms of a concussion:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Confusion

  • Headache

  • Memory loss

  • Loss of consciousness

Wait until all of your symptoms are gone and your provider says it’s OK to resume your activity. A second head injury before fully recovering from the first one can lead to serious brain injury.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your doctor, or as advised. If your nose looks crooked after the swelling goes down, call the ENT doctor for an appointment. Also make an appointment if it’s still hard to breathe through one or both sides of your nose. If you have trouble getting an ENT appointment, call your regular doctor.

If the bones are out of place, a reduction should be done 6 to 10 after the injury. In children, the reduction should be done 3 to 7 after the injury. After that time, the bones become more difficult to move back into position.

If you had X-rays taken, they will be reviewed by a radiologist. You will be told of any new findings that may affect your care.

When to seek medical advice

Call your health care provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Bleeding from your nose even after you have pinched your nostrils together for 15 minutes

  • Swelling, pain, or redness on your face that gets worse

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

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

  • Sinus pain

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Severe headache or dizziness

  • Headache or dizziness that gets worse

  • Unusual drowsiness, or unable to wake up as usual

  • Confusion or change in behavior or speech

  • Convulsion (seizure) 


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