Nose Fracture, with X-Ray

A broken bone, or fracture, of the nose 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 your nose. By tomorrow, you may have bruising around your eyes.

A minor fracture will heal in 3 to 4 weeks, with no more treatment needed. A major break that changes the shape of your nose may need to be treated by a nose specialist, called an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor.The ENT doctor will straighten the bones in your nose. This is called a reduction. Some fractures may need a reduction as soon as possible, such as when bleeding from the nose won'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 no more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Do this every 1 to 2 hours for the first 24 to 48 hours. Then use the ice as needed to ease pain and swelling. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin.

  • Tell your provider if you are taking aspirin or blood-thinning medicine. These medicines make it more likely that your nose will bleed. Your provider may need to change your dose.

  • You may use over-the-counter pain medicine to control pain, unless another medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or history of gastrointestinal ulcers, talk with your provider 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. Having a second head injury before you fully recover from the first one can lead to serious brain injury.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. If your nose looks crooked after the swelling goes down, call the ENT doctor for an appointment within the next 10 days. Also make an appointment if it’s still hard to breathe through 1 or both sides of your nose. If you have trouble getting an ENT appointment, call your regular provider.

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

If you had X-rays taken, you will be told of any new findings that may affect your care.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Bleeding from your nose even after you have pinched your nostrils together for 15 minutes without stopping

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

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or chills, as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Can't breathe from both sides of your nose after swelling goes down

  • Sinus pain

Call 911

Call 911 if you have:

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Severe headache or dizziness

  • Headache or dizziness that gets worse

  • Abnormal drowsiness, or unable to wake up as usual

  • Confusion or change in behavior or speech

  • Convulsion, or seizure

© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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