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Broken Nose Treatment

Broken Nose Treatment

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When to seek medical advice for a broken nose.

Seek emergency medical attention if you experience a nose injury accompanied by:

  • A head or neck injury, which may be marked by severe headache, neck pain, vomiting or loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bleeding that doesn't stop after 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the severity of your injury
  • A noticeable change in the shape of your nose that isn't related to swelling, such as a crooked or twisted appearance
  • Clear fluid draining from your nose

If the injury to your nose is minor — accompanied only by swelling and moderate pain — you may choose to wait 48 to 72 hours before deciding to see your doctor. This allows time for the swelling to subside, so you and your doctor can better evaluate your injury.

During this waiting period, get medical attention if:

  • The pain or swelling doesn't progressively get better — and eventually disappear — within 72 hours.
  • Your nose looks misshapen or crooked after the swelling recedes.
  • You can't breathe efficiently through your nose even after the swelling subsides.
  • You experience frequent, recurring nosebleeds.
  • You're running a fever that's one or more degrees above your normal body temperature.

If you have a minor fracture that hasn't caused your nose to become crooked or otherwise misshapen, professional medical treatment may be unnecessary. Your doctor may recommend simple self-care measures, such as using ice on the area and taking over-the-counter pain medications.

Closed reduction
If the break has displaced the bones and cartilage in your nose, your doctor may be able to manually realign them with a nonsurgical procedure called closed reduction. Closed reduction should be conducted within 10 days of the fracture.

During this procedure, your doctor uses a nasal speculum to open your nostrils. He or she then uses special instruments — including small forceps and a narrow tool called a Boies elevator — to help realign your broken bones and cartilage and return them to their original positions. You'll likely receive pain medications, including local injections or nasal sprays, before the procedure.

If you experience persistent bleeding related to any nasal fracture, your doctor may pack your nostrils with moistened gauze strips. These strips, which may contain an antibiotic ointment, are usually removed within three days.

Severe breaks, multiple breaks or breaks that have gone untreated for more than 10 days may not be candidates for closed reduction. In these cases, surgery to realign the bones and reshape your nose (rhinoplasty) may be necessary.

If the break has damaged your nasal septum, causing obstruction or difficulty breathing, reconstructive surgery called septorhinoplasty may be recommended.

Both surgeries are typically performed on an outpatient basis. Most people choose to stay home during the recovery process since considerable swelling and bruising are common side effects. Discomfort, swelling and bruising usually improve significantly after about one week.

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