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Broken Nose

Medical Treatment

For simple breaks in which the nose has not been displaced (the bone is not crooked), the doctor may prescribe only pain medication, ice, and nasal decongestants.

  • For markedly displaced fractures, the doctor may attempt to realign the bone pieces. The doctor may use pain medication, local anesthesia, and nasal instruments.
    • Not all displaced fractures can be relocated immediately.
    • Not all displaced fractures can be relocated in the emergency department.
    • The doctor will advise of the best care.
  • If the nose continues to bleed, the doctor may insert packing into the nostrils.
    • A soft gauze pad will be placed in the bleeding nostril and should stop the nosebleed completely. The doctor usually removes the packing in 2-3 days.
    • Do not attempt to remove this packing.
    • The doctor will prescribe antibiotics and pain medication while the packing is in place. 
  • If other injuries exist, additional diagnostic tests and treatment may be given.

Medications

Try acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for pain, taking care to follow the instructions on the bottle. Do not exceed the dose stated on the package instructions.

For more serious injuries, stronger pain medication may be prescribed.

Call a doctor or pharmacist if any questions or concerns arise regarding any medication.

Surgery

Surgery may be needed for multiple breaks in the nose, persistent deformity, or damage to the inner portions of the nose.

  • Some simple surgeries can be performed in the doctor's office.
    • The doctor pushes the broken bones back into place.
    • Special instruments and pain medicine (anesthesia) may be used.
    • Anesthesia may be injected into the nose or placed in the nostrils.
  • Other surgeries are performed in the operating room.
    • These surgeries tend to be more complex and involve realigning the nasal bones and surrounding tissue.
    • Intravenous (IV) anesthesia is often used.
  • Simple breaks that are not out of place do not usually require surgery.
  • A doctor will advise the best treatment plan.

Other Therapy

If a nose might be broken, avoid resting anything on the nose, including glasses and sunglasses.

Do not attempt to straighten the nose.

Next Steps Follow-up

About 3-5 days after the swelling in the nose has gone away, a person may be referred to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMFS), or a plastic surgeon.

Follow-up care should not be delayed. A delay, especially longer than 7-10 days, may cause a broken bone to be set in a deformed state.

Prevention

Avoid drug and alcohol use. Many nose breaks occur during or after abuse of these drugs.

  • Follow safety rules when participating in sports and physical recreation.
  • Wear a seatbelt at all times while riding in a motor vehicle.

Outlook

If a nasal injury is minor, further care may not be needed. Many will need a follow-up visit in about 3 days after the swelling has resolved. If a severe break has occurred, corrective surgery may be required.

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

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