In cases of facial trauma, nasal fractures are a common type of bone injury. This is largely due to the prominence and central location of the nose on the face and the weakness of the nasal cartilage. A nasal fracture is commonly the result of an injury from a car accident, a fall, a physical altercation, or a sports related injury. Untreated nasal fractures can negatively affect both the appearance and the function of the nose. Functional problems include chronic nasal obstruction or blockage, and a predisposition for sinusitis, infection, and nose bleeds.
Symptoms of Nasal fractures
Nasal fractures often go unnoticed by both physicians and patients as a combination of the symptoms, including tenderness, hemorrhaging, and deformity, may not occur for long or at all. Additional symptoms of nasal fractures may include:
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- Crooked appearance of the nose
- Nose bleeds
Diagnosis of Nasal Fractures
A nasal fracture is commonly diagnosed by a doctor by reviewing the patient's symptoms and performing a physical examination of the nose. Additional diagnostic tests may include:
- CT Scan
Treatment for a Nasal Fracture
A nasal fracture is immediately treated with ice and pain medications. Nasal decongestants may be prescribed to help make breathing easier while the nose is swollen. In cases where the nasal fracture is only a simple fracture, this may be the only treatment necessary. If the bone or cartilage in the nose needs to be straightened, a doctor may use a splint or fill the area with gauze in technique known as nasal packing. For a more severe nasal fracture, surgery may be necessary to move the bone or cartilage back into the original position.
After treatment for a nasal fracture, most regular daily activities may be resumed. Patients may be advised to refrain from playing sports or performing strenuous physical activities for a few weeks after the initial treatment. When returning to sports or physical activities, doctors may recommend a nose guard.