How You Can Tell if Your Nose is Broken

Nasal anatomy: The septum nasi bones and carti...

Playing sports, even non-contact sports, can put you or your child at risk for injury.  A ball to the face, an accident on the field or falling awkwardly can cause anything from bruising to a cut to a broken nose.  Even though you or your child, may be bleeding from the nose profusely and you heard a crack when you were hit, it doesn’t always mean you’ve broken your nose.

Although the nose is primarily made up of cartilage, the ethmoid bone is part of the forehead, placed between the eyes and there is another boney area in the nasal septum, which is the area between the nostrils.  If you have broken your nose the area between the eyes is what will most likely get broken, although the cartilage in your nose can be torn, broken or damaged as well.

Primary Symptoms of a Broken Nose

Bleeding – One of the most common symptoms you will experience with a broken nose is profuse bleeding.  However even though you are bleeding quite a bit from your nose that doesn’t always indicate a break.  Any time you get hit in the face and break the skin, you will bleed quite a bit.

Tenderness – If it hurts when you touch your nose that can be a sign of a broken nose as well, but again this can occur if you just badly bruised you nose.

Swelling – You will want to ice your nose to prevent swelling so you can find out if your nose is broken or not.  A swollen nose could be broken, but unless the nose has a deformity, it can be different to ascertain when swollen.

Bust of Germanicus in military dress. Roman ar...

Bruising – Often when you have a broken nose, there will be bruising on the nose and beneath the eyes.  The raccoon effect almost always indicate that your nose is broken.

Deformity – If the nose is noticeably crooked, flattened or pushed over to the side, you probably have a broken nose.  Depending on the severity of the deformation, you may have to have a rhinoplasty, a nose job, to re-break and set the nose so it is straight again.

Headache – Of course you can get a headache with a bruised nose as well, but as the bone at the top of the nose is connected to the forehead, a headache with a broken nose isn’t uncommon.

Breathing difficulty – As a broken nose will bleed and swell quite a bit, you will probably experience difficulty in breathing through your nose.  Once the swelling has abated, if you are still having breathing difficulty, that could mean your septum was deviated by the injury or your nose was broken.

Crunching/Crackling – When you touch your nose, if you hear a crunching, creaking or crackling noise, you probably have a broken nose.

If you do sustain an injury to your nose, whether through a car accident or when playing sports you will want to stop the bleeding as soon as you can and apply ice to your nose to keep the swelling to a minimum.  Call your doctor for advice if you are not sure whether or not the nose is broken or go to the emergency room at a nearby hospital, especially if there is obvious damage to the nose.

While you can wait until the swelling goes down to determine whether or not to see a doctor, if the bleeding reoccurs there is clear drainage from the nose, severe headaches or if you experience breathing difficulties go to the ER immediately.  There can be life threatening consequences with a broken nose.


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