Broken Nose: Care Instructions

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Picture of a broken nose

Your Care Instructions

A broken nose is a break, or fracture, of the bone or cartilage. Most broken noses need only home care and a follow-up visit with a doctor. The swelling should go down in a few days. Bruises around your eyes and nose should go away in 2 to 3 weeks.

You heal best when you take good care of yourself. Eat a variety of healthy foods, and don't smoke.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If you have a nasal splint or packing, leave it in place until a doctor removes it.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Take decongestants as directed to help you breathe after the splint or packing is removed. Your doctor may give you a prescription or suggest over-the-counter medicine.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your nose for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the first 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice pack and your skin.
  • Sleep with your head slightly raised until the swelling goes down. Prop up your head and shoulders on pillows.
  • Do not play contact sports for 6 weeks.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • You have clear fluid draining from your nose.
  • You have vision changes.
  • Your nose is bleeding.
  • You have new or worse pain.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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