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How to Identify Symptoms of a Nose Fracture

By Denise Stern ; Updated July 27, 2017

Getting hit in the nose really hurts--your eyes water automatically, it hurts every time your heart beats and you may wonder if you have broken your nose. By understanding how to identify symptoms of a nose fracture, you may either rest easy or seek medical help to fix it. If a broken nose is not taken care of, it may lead to infection or breathing difficulties. Most often, nose fractures or injuries to the nose are caused by impact accidents, such as an automobile crash, running into a door or falling. Nose fractures don't occur in young children under 8 years of age because their nose contains only cartilage. However, those over 8 can suffer from nose fractures.

Be alert for any lingering pain in the nose after any sort of an impact. This pain may be felt on the bridge, or deeper into the tissues of the sinuses. Sometimes, the pain is dull and throbbing, while some individuals experience a sharp, piercing sensation that produces intense pain.

Watch for nosebleeds, a common symptom of a nose fracture. Bleeding from the nose is common with other medical conditions, but bleeding following an impact may indicate a fracture. To stem blood flow, lean forward to prevent choking and attempt to staunch the flow with tissue or cloth. Never stick anything up your nose.

Look at the nose. Is it swollen or discolored? Bruising occurs almost immediately with a nose fracture, produced by broken blood vessels. Swelling is another sign of dislocation or fracture. Sometimes, an individual will also experience "raccoon eyes" with a nose fracture, which is a bruising of one or both eyes.

Be especially alert to any difficulty breathing through the nose. After an impact, the nose may feel tender for a while, but if not broken, will not interfere with breathing. A broken nose that causes difficulty breathing may be a serious symptom that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Look at the nose again. Is it crooked or misshapen? Sometimes a nose fracture will be obvious, but many times it won't. Always be alert to any changes in shape, contour or profile and when in doubt, schedule a visit with a physician who will be able to make a determination.

Tip

Children and adults should wear protective headgear when engaging in contact sports, bicycle riding or skateboarding. Nose fractures will generally heal without difficult within 20 days of injury.

Warnings

Left untreated, a nose fracture may lead not only to a permanent change in the appearance of the nose, but to difficulty breathing or even infection of the nasal and sinus passages. If a broken nose is suspected, schedule a visit with a physician for proper treatment.

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