Table of Contents
What Causes a Broken or Fractured Nose?
A broken nose occurs when there is a break or a crack in the bones or cartilage in the nose. This break usually happens in the bone above the bridge of your nose.
Some of the causes of fractured noses are falls, physical fights, rough contact sports, and vehicle accidents, which cause facial injuries, etc. A broken nose can even occur if you walk into a door or wall.
What are The Signs of a Broken Nose?
The signs of a broken or fractured nose are:
- Pain in the nasal region, especially when touched
- Swelling and bruising around the nose, under the eyes, and surrounding areas
- Crooked or misshapen look of the nose
- Difficulty in breathing through the nose
- Possible discharge of mucus through the nose
- A feeling of blockage of nasal passages
What is the Treatment for a Broken Nose?
Nose fracture treatment ranges from icing the nose to surgical procedures that help realign the nose. If the broken nose has not become crooked, it can be considered a minor fracture, and there is no need to seek medical help.
Using Ice and pain relievers
In such cases, treatment will include:
- Ice pack application on the swollen area
- Take over-the-counter analgesics like ibuprofen
These will provide relief for the symptoms.
Manual alignment of the bones and cartilage in the nose will be required if they have been moved out of position by the nose fracture. A doctor or healthcare provider usually does this procedure within a fortnight of the occurrence of the fracture. The rule here is the sooner, the better. Usually, the doctor may wait for a few days until the swelling subsides first.
Under this alignment procedure, you will be given medication to numb the nose. The doctor or health care provider will gently push the nose bones or cartilage back into their proper place with their hands. A special tool may be needed at times to do this.
Subsequently, gauze packing will be placed on the inside of the nose. This may be required sometimes only for a short period. There will be a dressing on the outside, which may stay up to two weeks. If internal packing is done, it will stay for a week. In some cases, the doctor may place a temporary splint.
You will be prescribed antibiotics to prevent any bacterial infection.
Draining of septal hematoma
A nasal hematoma may possibly develop if the nose fracture is severe. This may form on one side or both sides of the nasal septum. It is the nasal septum that separates the two nostrils. When a pool of blood collects in the nasal septum, the septal hematoma develops.
Prompt treatment of this septal hematoma is required. Otherwise, it can cause a perforation (hole) in the septum. It may also cause a collapsed nasal bridge (saddle nose deformity).
To prevent such complications from arising, the doctor or healthcare provider will drain the septal hematoma. This procedure should be done on priority, as tissue necrosis or death can commence as quickly as 24 hours after an injury.
Broken nose surgery may be needed if there are severe or multiple breaks in the nose. Surgical intervention will realign the nasal bones, reshape the nose if required, and ease any problems of obstructed breathing. Surgery is also prescribed if nose fractures are left untreated for more than 14 days.
In case the nasal break has harmed the nasal septum, reconstructive surgery may have to be done.
Nasal reconstruction procedures are usually done under general anaesthesia.
The kinds of surgeries performed under nasal reconstruction include:
- Septoplasty: Under this procedure, the septum is reshaped. Parts of your bone and cartilage may be removed, and the reshaping and repositioning of the underlying structures is done. This repairs any holes or perforations and aids in the improvement of breathing.
- Rhinoplasty: In rhinoplasty, a new nose shape is created by the surgeon by adding, reducing, or rearranging the underlying bone and cartilage to create a new shape for the nose. Any obstruction is also limited.
Complications that may arise due to a broken nose may include:
- Deviated septum: A deviated septum can be a result of a nose fracture. This occurs when the nasal septum is displaced and narrows the nasal passage. Broken nose surgery is needed to correct this. Some medications, like decongestants and antihistamines, can help to manage a deviated septum.
- Septal hematoma: A septal hematoma may block one or both nostrils. Immediately, surgical drainage has to be done to prevent cartilage damage.
Is Self-care Possible for Broken or Fractured Nose?
If you suspect a fractured or broken nose, you can try these to bring down the swelling and any pain immediately:
- Quick action: If you suspect a nose fracture, use your mouth to breathe and bend forward so that there is reduced blood draining into the throat.
- Apply ice: Use ice packs or cold compresses on the injured area immediately. Continue to do this at least four times a day for the first one to two days. This will result in a reduction of the swelling. Care should be taken not to press too hard on the swelling, or it may become more painful. The nose may also get damaged more.
- Take pain relief medicines: You can take over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol and Ibuprofen, which are painkillers that will reduce the pain and make you feel better.
- Elevate your head: Keep the position of your head up, particularly when you go to sleep. This will prevent the swelling and throbbing from worsening.
- Reduce activities: Avoid playing sports for the first fortnight after a nose fracture treatment. Contact sports should be avoided for at least a month and a half after the nose fracture.
A fractured nose involves broken or cracked nasal bones and/or cartilage. It usually isn’t an emergency, but medical care should be sought as quickly as feasible. These cannot be prevented, but you can reduce the risk by being aware of your surroundings and wearing protective gear during contact sports. Most broken noses can be easily treated without any surgical intervention. Surgery is required only in severe cases. You need to remember that prompt treatment of a broken or fractured nose will help avoid permanent nasal obstruction, as well as any deformities.