A broken nose, or nasal fracture, can be caused by a range of accidents that result in trauma to the face or head. This type of fracture can be caused by contact sports, fights, falls or even car accidents. The break is most commonly found in the bone over the bridge of your nose. A broken nose can often heal without medical intervention and surgery isn’t usually necessary.
Symptoms of a nasal fracture
A broken nose is often painful or tender, and you may experience swelling of your nose or surrounding areas of your face. A broken nose could cause bleeding, bruising and mucus. If you think you have a broken nose, you might also have black eyes, a cut on the nose or a nosebleed and you might experience a crunching or cracking sound if you touch your nose.
In more serious cases, it can leave you with a misshapen nose and it can cause you to feel like you have an obstruction causing difficulty breathing through your nose.
When to see a doctor
Generally, a broken nose does not require medical attention and can heal on its own within three weeks. However, if you experience a nose injury in combination with a head or neck injury, you should seek emergency medical attention. If your nose has changed shape, such as being twisted in a manner that isn’t related to swelling, or you have difficulty breathing, you should see a doctor immediately.
Diagnosing a fractured nose
If you have a suspected broken nose, your doctor may gently press on the outside of your nose and surrounding areas. They may also check inside the nasal passage for obstructions and to see if there are any further signs of broken bones.
Scans aren’t usually necessary to diagnose a broken nose, however, CT scans might be used if a physical examination is difficult or it is suspected that you have other injuries.
Treating a broken nose
Mild broken noses can often be treated at home. Holding an ice pack (or an alternative like frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) on your nose a few times a day, taking paracetamol and keeping your head upright whenever possible can help bring down swelling. If your nose has changed shape, never try to straighten it yourself – always seek medical attention instead.
If the break has left the bones and cartilage in your nose out of place, your doctor may be able to realign them without surgery. This procedure has to be carried out within 14 days of the fracture occurring, but preferably sooner for the best possible outcome.
Following a manual realignment procedure, your nose will be splinted, dressed and packed to make sure that your nose is adequately supported while it heals in its corrected position.
More severe breaks or ones that have gone untreated for more than 14 days may not be suitable for realignment. In these cases, surgery to realign the bones and reshape the nose might be required.
Rhinoplasty is a surgery that is used to change the shape of the nose. This can be completed by reshaping the bone, cartilage, skin or all three. This surgery is often carried out to change the appearance of the nose or improve breathing. If your nose has been left crooked or misshapen due to a fracture, you could consider rhinoplasty to correct this.
Sometimes, a broken nose can damage your nasal septum and cause difficulty breathing. When the septum is crooked, this is known as a deviated septum. If the deviated septum is severe, it can block one side of the nose and reduce airflow, causing breathing difficulties. In this case, reconstructive surgery is often recommended.
Septoplasty is the surgical procedure that is used to correct a deviated septum. During septoplasty, the septum is repositioned to the middle of the nose to improve breathing.
If you’re considering surgery to correct a broken nose or deviated septum, get in touch with the ENT specialists at 150 Harley Street.