A fractured nose can occur as a result of a sports injury, car accident or similar trauma. A nose fracture involves cracked or broken nasal bones and/or cartilage. Nasal fracture treatments include manual realignment and — in severe cases — surgery. Prompt treatment helps you avoid permanent nasal obstruction and cosmetic changes.
A fractured nose happens when you break your nasal bones or cartilage. Nasal fractures may occur during traumatic events, such as car accidents, sports injuries or physical fights.
Nasal fractures are very common, accounting for 40% to 50% of all facial fractures.
Statistically, nasal bone fractures are twice as common in men and people assigned male at birth than women and people assigned female at birth.
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Fractured nose symptoms include:
Blunt force trauma can result in a fractured nose. This may occur during:
A healthcare provider will perform a physical examination. They’ll gently press around the bridge of your nose and look inside your nasal passages to check for obstructions.
In most cases, imaging tests aren’t necessary. However, if your provider suspects additional facial trauma, they may recommend:
Treatments range from icing your nose to undergoing surgery. The treatment that’s right for you depends on the severity of your injuries.
Nasal fracture treatments include:
Ice and pain relievers
If a nasal fracture didn’t make your nose crooked or misshapen, you may not need realignment or surgery. In many cases, taking over-the-counter pain relievers (like acetaminophen or ibuprofen) and applying ice packs can help ease fractured nose symptoms.
Be sure to follow all of your healthcare provider’s guidelines.
Draining of septal hematoma
In cases of severe trauma, you may develop a nasal hematoma on one or both sides of your septum (the part of your nose that separates your two nostrils). A septal hematoma is a pool of blood that collects in your septum.
Left untreated, a septal hematoma can lead to a perforation (hole) in your septum. It can also result in a collapsed nasal bridge — a condition known as a saddle nose deformity. To avoid these complications, your healthcare provider will need to drain the septal hematoma. They should perform this procedure as soon as possible, as tissue necrosis (death) can begin as soon as 24 hours after an injury.
If your nasal bones have shifted out of alignment as a result of your injury, a healthcare provider will need to realign them. To do this, they’ll numb your nose with local anesthesia, then gently push your bones and cartilage back into place. (They may recommend general anesthesia, depending on your age and the severity of your injuries.)
Your provider may wait a few days before performing a manual realignment. This allows some of the swelling to go down first.
Once your provider realigns your nasal bones, they may place gauze packing inside of your nostrils and dressing on the outside of your nose. In some cases, they may also place a temporary splint. You’ll be able to remove the packing and dressing in about one to two weeks.
Your healthcare provider may also give you antibiotics to prevent infection.
If you have a severely broken nose, you may need surgery to help realign your nasal bones and relieve obstructed breathing. A provider typically gives you general anesthesia for your comfort while a surgeon performs nasal reconstruction procedures.
Nasal reconstruction surgeries include:
In general, a fractured nose takes about three to six weeks to heal.
You can’t prevent nasal fractures altogether. But there are things you can do to reduce your risk:
A broken nose usually isn’t an emergency, but you should still seek medical care as soon as possible. Prompt treatment can reduce your risk of long-term complications like deformities or breathing difficulties.
Mild nose fractures may not require treatment. But if you have a severe fracture — or multiple fractures — you might need treatment or surgery.
No matter what kind of treatment you receive, it should take six weeks or less to recover.
You should see your healthcare provider if:
Following fractured nose treatment, you still might need to visit the emergency room if:
If you have a broken nose, you may want to ask your healthcare provider a few questions, such as
A broken nose can heal on its own in just a few weeks. But if your nose heals before a healthcare provider realigns it, then you could have permanent complications, such as permanent deformity or difficulty breathing. That’s why it’s important to seek medical care as soon as possible.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you think you or a loved one has a fractured nose, visit a healthcare provider as soon as possible. They can determine the extent of your injuries and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. While a broken nose usually isn’t an emergency, it’s important to undergo treatment early on, before you develop potential complications.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/18/2022.
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