A broken nose is a fracture of the nasal bones. It’s often caused by damage to the nasal cartilage, particularly the nasal septum —the flexible part of the nose that divides the left side of the nose to the right side of the nose.
A broken nose occurs when the face is unprotected from impacts due to accidents, violence, or sports. In mild cases of nasal fractures, the injury will only cause nose bleeding and/or swelling on the affected area. But in severe cases, the bone will break and, unless treated, it could cause the nose to shift from its normal alignment, resulting in very obvious deformity. Severe cases of broken nose will result in severe nose bleeding and breathing problems due to a deviated septum.
The center of the face is often vulnerable in physical activities or accidents and unless you are wearing protective gear; the nose is always at risk of breaking. Athletes are often susceptible to a broken nose, especially if they engage in physically demanding sports like martial arts, boxing, basketball, or soccer. Before knowing how to treat a broken nose, it’s important to know what you can do to prevent an accident from happening in the first place!
How to Prevent a Broken Nose
The best way to prevent a broken nose is to wear protective gear, especially if you are driving a motorcycle or a bicycle. Always wear seatbelts when driving a car and if you’re engaged in sports, wear the right gear too!
Broken Nose Symptoms
- Discolored skin under the eyes
- Swelling, tenderness on the nose area
- Nose bleeding
- Twisted-looking or crooked nose
- A deviated septum
How to Fix a Broken Nose
You’d be surprised at how many ways you can fix a broken nose. However, we stress that you should—no matter how mild your injuries may seem—always go to your doctor for proper diagnosis! Even in the mildest of cases, the affected area will swell up and be painful for hours after the accident. Your doctor will likely advise you to wait until the swelling goes away before accurately assessing the extent of damage, if there’s any.
If the nose is misaligned or there’s obvious deformity, the doctor will try to re-align the nose immediately after the accident. Depending on the extent of damage, this can be done with or without surgery.
If the nose is bleeding profusely, it will be plugged with a gauze or hemostatic sponge. If there’s a blood clot or bruising on your nasal septum, the doctor will drain it by making a small incision. This minor procedure will not cause long term deformity of the nose.
If the injury is severe, a broken nose can be fixed through a procedure called a rhinoplasty. Rhinoplasty helps reshape your nose and even improve its appearance.
Caring For a Broken Nose on Your Own
Although we strongly advice those with a broken nose to seek immediate medical attention, a broken nose can be managed at home on your own too. First, get an ice pack and wrap it in a tea towel. Hold the ice pack on the nose for 15 to 20 minutes every one or two hours for a couple days.
Prop your head up on several pillows to prevent nose bleeding and swelling. Take over-the-counter painkillers to relieve the pain. Take a decongestant if breathing is difficult. If breathing gets worse, seek medical attention immediately.
Finally, do not wear glasses until the swelling goes down and do not attempt to re-align the nose on your own. Let your doctor straighten the broken nose.