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A to Z: Fracture, Nasal (Broken Nose)

May also be called: Nose Fracture; Fracture of the Nose

A nasal fracture, or broken nose, is a break or crack in one or both of the bones of the nose.

More to Know

Two small nasal bones connect to the front of the skull and form the bridge of the nose. The cartilage that gives a nose its shape and flexibility is attached to these bones. When one or both of these bones breaks or cracks, it's called a nasal fracture, nose fracture, or broken nose.

Most nasal fractures are caused by blunt, hard blows to the nose — such as in a fall, car accident, or sports injury — and they often happen along with injuries to other parts of the face. Nasal fractures are the most common fractures of the head, but often aren't particularly serious.

Someone with a broken nose may have bleeding from the nose, breathing problems, pain in the nose and face, and black eyes. The broken nose itself may appear crooked, swollen, and discolored. A severe break may cause cartilage fractures, blood buildup that blocks one or both nostrils, or a deviated septum (when  the wall separating the two sides of the nose is displaced).

Minor nasal fractures in which the nose isn't crooked or misshapen often don't need treatment beyond pain medicines and cold packs to ease swelling. If the nose is crooked, a doctor may need to reset it. Surgery usually is only done in severe cases or when the fracture has gone untreated for more than 2 weeks.

Keep in Mind

Nasal fractures are common, and though they can be painful, they're usually not a big deal. Still, a doctor should examine your child if there is any bleeding, swelling, or other symptoms of a broken nose after a blow to the face. Many nasal fractures can be avoided by wearing seat belts in vehicles and helmets and the proper safety gear during sports and other activities.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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