Nasal Packing: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

After a nose injury or surgery, gauze is packed high up into the nose. It soaks up fluids that drain from the nose, such as blood. The doctor may change the gauze. Or he or she may leave it in place for a few days.

Your face may look puffy. The skin near your eyes may be bruised. This may last for many days, but it will fade over time.

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?

  • Follow your doctor's advice for taking care of the packing. Your doctor may want to take it out at his or her office.


  • Avoid strenuous activities for 1 week or until your doctor says it is okay. These include bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, and aerobic exercise.
  • You may drive when you are no longer taking prescription pain pills and feel up to it.


  • Do not take aspirin, medicines that contain aspirin, or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) for 3 weeks after surgery unless your doctor says it is okay.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
  • 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.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.

Other instructions

  • Do not blow your nose for 1 week after surgery.
  • Do not put anything into your nose.
  • If you must sneeze, open your mouth and sneeze naturally.
  • After the packing is removed, use saline (saltwater) nasal washes to help keep your nasal passages open. This will wash out mucus and bacteria. You can buy saline nose drops at a grocery store or pharmacy. Or you can make your own at home. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 2 cups of distilled water. If you make your own, fill a bulb syringe with the solution. Put the tip into your nostril, and squeeze gently. Blow your nose.

When should you call for help?

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

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

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

  • The dressing soaks through with blood.
  • You have a fever with a stiff neck or a severe headache.
  • You are sensitive to light, or you feel very sleepy or confused.
  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain pills.
  • You have a fever over 38°C.
  • You have double or blurred vision, cannot close your eyes, or have eye pain.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: July 29, 2016