How to handle a broken nose

A broken nose is a fracture or crack in the bony part of the nose. This injury is usually due to external trauma such as vehicular accidents, blows to the face, sports injuries and falls. A broken nose is often considered as the most common type of facial fracture.

broken nose

A broken nose can be caused by sports injuries, falls and vehicular accidents.

Causes of a broken nose

There are several causes of a broken nose that are closely linked to trauma to the face or the nose. The common sources of trauma are the following:

  • Engaged in fighting is the most common cause of a broken nose.
  • Falls
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Vehicular accidents

Symptoms of a broken nose

Always remember that it is usually apparent that there is an injury to the nose due to the swelling, bruising and bleeding. The signs that indicate that an individual has a broken nose include the following:

  • Swelling of the face or nose
  • Tenderness when the nose is touched
  • Bruised nose
  • Deformity of the nose
  • Bruising beneath the eyes or black eye
  • Nosebleed
  • Pain and breathing difficulty when using the nostrils
  • If the nose is touched, there is a crackling sound or creaking sensation

When to seek medical care

There are also cases that would require medical care. It is important to call the doctor if the following occur:

  • Crooked nose
  • Pain or swelling that persists for 3 days
  • Fever
  • Breathing through the nostrils is not possible after the swelling has subsided
  • Nosebleeds that recur

Take the individual directly to the emergency department at the nearest hospital if the following symptoms or signs are present:

  • Bleeding from the nose that could not be controlled
  • Bleeding for more than a few minutes on a single nostril or both
  • Clear fluid draining from the nose
  • Open lacerations to the face or nose
  • Other injuries to the body or face
  • Severe or persistent headaches
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Continuous vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Diminished or changes in vision
  • Tingling, numbness or weakness in the arms
  • Severe injury that require immediate medical attention

Treatment for a broken nose

The following first aid measures can be performed at home to help minimize the symptoms of a broken nose.

  • Apply ice wrapped in cloth over the nose for 15 minutes at a time and then remove. The process is repeated every hour throughout the day. Use ice at the time of injury and for 1-2 days after to minimize the swelling and pain.
  • Provide over-the-counter medications for pain such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen for pain relief.
  • Administer an over-the-counter nasal decongestant to help with the breathing through the nostrils. Do not use if the nose continues to bleed.
  • The head must be elevated when sleeping to prevent increased swelling of the nose. Make sure that the head is properly propped up with pillows or simply lift the head of the bed by using large books placed under the mattress.


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