What is Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose?
A Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose is a pathological condition of the nose in which there is a break or fracture of the bone or cartilage of the nose. Usually, these fractures occur over the bridge of the nose or in the septum. These fractures are usually caused due to a traumatic injury or direct blow to the nose such as in a motor vehicle crash hitting the nose on the steering wheel, contact sports like rugby, football, or boxing in which an individual can be hit on the face or nose forcefully and result in Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose. Treatment for Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose is usually conservative with periods of rest but in severe cases a surgery may be done in cases where the nose get deformed due to the injury or the fracture is acute.
What are the Causes of Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose?
As stated, normally Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose is caused by a blow or injury to the nose. Some of the common causes of Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose are:
- Bumping into a wall when walking in the dark or trying to walk through a glass door can result in nasal fracture or broken nose.
- Slip and fall falling directly facedown.
- Contact sports like football, boxing, rugby and the like and getting hit
- Motor vehicle accidents with the nose hitting the steering wheel directly can cause nasal fracture or broken nose.
- Assault with being hit directly on the nose is a common cause for nasal fracture or broken nose.
What are the Symptoms of Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose?
Some of the symptoms of Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose are:
- Nasal fracture or broken nose is usually accompanied with symptoms of Pain and tenderness around the nasal region
- Nasal deformity with the nose looking it is bent or crooked
- Symptoms of swelling in and around the nasal area.
- Nasal congestion but without any production of any drainage
- Bruising around the nose and eyes
- A grating sound with trying to move the nose.
Some of the symptoms of Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose which may require immediate medical attention are:
- Heavy bleeding from the nose
- Persistent drainage of clear fluid from the nose
- Trouble breathing
- Nasal deformity.
What are the Risk Factors for a Broken Nose or Nasal Fracture?
Some of the risk factors for a Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose are:
- Athletes who play football, rugby or are boxers are prone to Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose
- People who get involved in altercations and physical fights can also end up having Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose
- Driving without the seat belt on
- Riding a bicycle on uneven terrains.
How is Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose Diagnosed?
For diagnosing Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose, the treating physician will begin by taking a detailed history of the patient inquiring as to how the injury occurred and how long the patient has been having the symptoms. The next step towards diagnosis is performing a physical examination looking for areas of pain, swelling and tenderness in the nasal area. In case of severe pain, the physician may numb the area with a local anesthetic before palpating the injured area. In case if a fracture is suspected, then the physician may order radiological studies in the form of x-rays of the nasal areas to look for broken bones or cartilages. A CT scan may also be ordered in order to look at the internal structures of the nose looking for any internal injuries.
How is Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose Treated?
The treatment of Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose depends on the severity of the condition. In case if the patient is experiencing severe symptoms then emergent treatment may be needed. In case if the symptoms are mild then the patient can try certain treatments at home itself before going to the physician.
- The patient can stop the bleeding by sitting down and leaning forwards while breathing through the mouth
- In case if there is no bleeding but just throbbing pain, the patient can lie down with the head of the bed elevated to control the pain
- For calming down the swelling associated with nasal fracture or broken nose, a cold compress can be applied over the area for 15-20 minutes two to three times a day
- Pain medications in the form of ibuprofen and Tylenol can be taken to control the pain associated with nasal fracture or broken nose.
Once a Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose is diagnosed the treating physician may do the following:
- Pack the nose with gauze
- Prescribe pain medication and antibiotics
- In case of a deformity surgery may be required for correcting the deformity and realigning the nose in its proper shape
- In case if the nasal septum is damaged then a procedure called septorhinoplasty will be performed to repair the nasal septum in order to correct the Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose. This surgery can be performed as an outpatient procedure.
Recovery Period or Healing Time for Nasal Fracture or Broken Nose
The time taken for a nasal fracture or broken nose to heal or recover depends on the severity of the injury. A hairline nasal fracture will not really cause much pain and discomfort and is likely to heal within 2 weeks. A displaced nasal fracture or displaced broken nose will take 1-2 months to heal. Pain, bruise or swelling following surgical treatment of nasal fracture or broken nose will improve within 10 days.