Nose injuries often occur during play, sports, accidents, fights, and falls. Pain, swelling, and bruising are common, even with minor injuries. Home treatment can usually help relieve your symptoms.
It may be hard to tell if your nose is broken. Swelling can make your nose look crooked even if it is not broken. When the swelling goes down after a few days, it is easier to tell if your nose is really crooked. Most doctors prefer to check an injured nose soon after the swelling has gone down. Sometimes, testing may be needed, such as an X-ray or computed tomography (CT) scan of the head, if other facial injuries or fractures are suspected. See a picture of a broken nose.
Seriousness of a nose injury
Whether or not your nose is broken, a nose injury is more serious when:
Complications of a broken nose
Most broken noses heal without problems. When problems develop, they can include:
Treatment of a simple fracture, when the bone is still in place, usually includes pain medicine and nasal decongestants. You may or may not need a nasal splint.
If your nose is broken and out of place, it may need to be set. Most doctors like to wait for any swelling to go down before setting a broken nose. Most swelling goes down after 2 or 3 days but may take as long as 7 to 14 days. After the nose is set, nasal packing may be inserted and a splint may be applied. You may be given antibiotics to help prevent infection if packing is used. Your doctor may want to recheck your nose and remove the packing in 2 to 3 days.
When you have a nose injury, it is important to look for other injuries to the head, face, and neck, such as a broken cheekbone, an eye injury, an injury to the mouth or teeth, or a cervical spine injury. If you think there are other injuries, use the topics in the Related Information section to evaluate these injuries.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
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