Dr David Lowinger MBBS FRACS Ear Nose & Throat Specialist Surgeon
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Adults

Broken or Bleeding Nose

Broken Nose

Broken nose is a fracture of the bone in the nose. It most commonly occurs on the nasal septum (cartilage that separates two nostrils).

Causes

Broken nose or nasal fracture may occur due to physical fights, injury during sports, falls, or accidents.

Symptoms

Some of the common symptoms of broken nose include pain, swelling and bruising around the nose or eyes, bleeding, crooked or misshapen nose, crackling sound or feeling on touching the nose, blocked nasal passages, and difficulty in breathing.

Complications

Possible complications of a broken nose include deviated nasal septum, nasal septal hematoma (collection of blood), cartilage fracture, cervical spine or neck injuries, cerebral spinal fluid draining from the nose (CSF rhinorrhea), loss of sense of smell, infection, and difficulty in breathing.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will diagnose the broken nose or nasal fracture through a physical examination and medical history. Your doctor will ask you the history of injury.  An endoscope, light optic tube which is passed through your nostrils is used to give a clearer picture of the nose. An X-ray of the nose and a CT scan may be necessary if your doctor is unable to identify the broken bone through any of the tests.

Treatment

In case of minor fracture your doctor recommends to follow self care measures such as applying ice on the affected area, keeping the head elevated, and taking medicines such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) to reduce pain.

If there is continuous bleeding, moisture nasal gauze strips with antibiotic ointment may be packed over the nose which will prevent infection. And if there is a blood clot (hematoma), then your doctor will drain the blood clot by making small incision.

If the bone or cartilage is displaced, closed reduction is done. Your doctor will insert splints which will help to realign the bones and cartilage and place them back in their original position. This is usually done within 7 to 14 days of breaking the nose.

  • Surgery: If there are multiple breaks or which is left untreated then surgery will be done to realign and reshape the bone, and the procedure is known as rhinoplasty.

    If the break has damaged the nasal septum causing difficulty in breathing, then septorhinoplasty is done to reconstruct the nose.

Prevention

Follow these guidelines to help prevent nose fracture:

  • Avoid driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs
  • Wear a seat belt during driving
  • Wear a helmet during motorcycle rides
  • Follow safety rules during sports
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Royal Australasian College of Surgeons The Australian Society Of Otolaryngology Head And Neck Surgery Australian New Zealand Society of Paediatric Otorhinolaryngology (ANZSPO) The University of New South Wales The University of Sydney Harvard Medical School

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