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HealthInfo Canterbury

Broken nose

Man with a broken noseA broken nose (also called a fractured nose) is a common injury after a knock to your face.

Broken noses are usually swollen, red, and sore. If your nose is broken you may also have bruising, cuts, or a bleeding nose. Your nose might look bent or you might find it hard to breathe through your nose.

What should I do if my nose is broken?

If you don't have any cuts to your skin and the cartilage between your nose isn't broken, you might not need any medical treatment. However, to help ease the swelling, hold an icepack against your nose for 15 minutes, around once an hour, for the first few days. (Make sure there is a cloth between the ice and your skin, so you don't damage your skin.) The swelling will usually go down after a week, and the bruising will go in about two weeks.

When should I see a doctor?

Most broken noses are not an emergency. But you should see a doctor quickly if you have:

Important!

A knock to your head or face can also cause more serious injuries. You should go to the hospital Emergency Department as soon as possible if:

Otherwise, you should see your GP if:

See your GP as soon as possible if you are worried about anything. If you need treatment by an ear, nose and throat specialist (also called an ENT or ORL doctor, or an otolaryngologist) it will be most successful if done within a week or two of your injury.

It's unlikely you'll need an X-ray of your broken nose, but if your doctor thinks another bone in your face may be broken that may be a reason to have an X-ray.

If your nose is severely broken, you may need to get it straightened (realigned) by an ORL (or ENT) doctor. The doctor might suggest you wait until there is less swelling before doing this, and this could take up to two weeks. Usually, you will be given a local anaesthetic that can numb your nose for two to four hours before straightening. But occasionally someone with a very severely broken nose needs a general anaesthetic (you go to sleep during the operation) to have their nose straightened.

If you are unhappy with either how you are breathing or the shape of your nose, ACC might cover the cost of private surgery. Talk to your doctor about this.

On the next page: Caring for your broken nose after surgery

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Otolaryngology, Canterbury DHB. December 2015.

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Page reference: 171363

Review key: HIBKN-171363