Patient's Complete Guide to Nasal Injuries
Overview of Nasal Injuries
Nasal injury or nasal fracture is a traumatic condition in the area which surrounds and supports your nose. It can be either inside or outside of the nose. Nose bone, cartilage, and soft tissues are mostly traumatized. Mostly, the bone over the bridge of your nose is fractured.
Signs and Symptoms of Nasal Injuries
Following are the sign and symptoms of nasal injuries:
- Internal and external pain
- Nose bleeding
- Secretion of whitish fluid from the nose
- Marks around eyes
- Facial swelling especially around the nose
- Difficulty in breathing
- Being unable to smell
- Crooked nose
Types of Nasal Injuries
People mostly suffer from the following types of nasal injuries:
- Nasal bone fracture
- Bulged nose
- Internal injuries or irritation
- Blood accumulation in the nasal septum (nasal septal hematoma)
Nasal bleeding occurs due to the trauma of blood vessels that surround the nose. Treatment recommendation depends on the type of condition.
Causes of Nasal Injuries
The external injury occurs if your nose is hit from the outside. Common causes are given below:
- Road accidents (motor vehicle)
- Domestic violence or abuse
- Sports injuries
You suffer from internal injuries when the blood vessels inside the nose or cartilage are damaged. Common causes include:
- Inflammation due to nose piercing
- Nasal irritation due to inhaling contaminating substances
- Use of cocaine or illegal drugs
- Frequent nose picking
- Nose obstruction by a foreign substance (most common in children)
Risk Factors of Nasal Injuries
Risk factors that enhance the chances of nasal injury:
- Participation in games such as football and hockey especially without wearing a headgear and face mask
- Using a bicycle
- Weight lifting without using a spotter
- Travelling in a car without putting on a seatbelt
Health-Related Complications of Nasal Injuries
Complications related to nasal injury:
- Deviation of the Septum: A nose rupture may result in a turned septum. This condition occurs when the septa dividing the nose is displaced. It results in the narrowing of your nasal passage. In this case medicines, such as decongestants and antihistamines, are used to treat a deviated septum, however, surgery is essential to restore the position of the nose.
- Collection of Blood: In some cases, blood is accumulated in the injured nose, a condition called a septal hematoma. It can obstruct one or both sides of the nose. Surgery becomes essential to remove these obstructions to protect the cartilage.
- Cartilage Fracture. If your nose is ruptured due to a strong blow such as from a road accident the chances of cartilage damage are increased. In this case, surgery is essential and you must consult a surgeon immediately.
Nasal injury can be prevented by following some precautions such as:
- Don’t forget to wear a helmet while participating in sports or riding motor vehicles.
- Use seatbelts while travelling in motor vehicles.
- Always wear protective masks while handling toxic substances.
- Avoid smoking and the use of illegal drugs.
Avoid blockage of your nose by foreign objects.
For diagnosis, your healthcare personnel will carefully press the outside area of your nose. The doctor may examine the internal of your nose to check for blockage or any sign of bone fracture. During the examination, the doctor will anaesthetize you through nasal spray or injection.
- X-rays: Image studies are not required for diagnosis.
- CT scan: If a physical examination is not possible due to severe damage then your doctor may suggest a CT scan
Treatment of Nasal Injuries | When to Consult a Doctor
There are various ways to treat and cure nasal injuries and nasal trauma depending upon the severity. Let’s have a look at them.
If the nasal injury is minor you can treat it at home by using either first aid or home care methods. However, if the injury is severe you have to consult a professional. The doctor’s treatment plan depends on the type and severity of the trauma. For example, the doctor will recommend:
Through first-aid minor injuries can be easily treated at home. To treat nosebleeds:
- Sit in an upright posture or lean forward to minimize the flow of blood towards the nose.
- For 5-15 minutes close your nose by pinching your nostrils
- Keep your head up and breathe by using your mouth
- Also, avoid nose-picking after several hours of injury
To treat Blunt-force trauma:
- Put ice on the injured site for 10-20 minutes for a few days after injury but avoid frostbite.
- Relieve the pain by taking anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen as per doctors’ prescriptions.
- During sleep keep your head in an upright position to avoid pain and swelling.
To remove an object from your nose:
- Try to blow out the subject by carefully pinching your nose.
- If you can see the object, gently remove it with tweezers.
- If the above-mentioned steps fail, then contact the doctor.
If the bleeding won't stop for a longer period and recur frequently, contact your medical health office as soon as possible. The doctor will suggest you undergo blood testing or imaging of the nose for diagnosis purposes.
Most commonly packing and cauterization are suggested for the treatment of nosebleeds. Packing is done by putting a gauze or balloon inside the nose to put pressure on broken vessels. In some other situations, cauterization is used to stop the bleeding. Within cauterization, either topical medicine or a host device is applied to the vessels to block them.
Your doctor may suggest you use the following medications (Note: Do not use any medicine without a prescription):
- Antibiotics to cope with microbial infections
- Pain-killers such as Tylenol or Motrin to relieve pain
- Nasal sprays in case of irritation
If the nasal fracture is serious, the physician may suggest you undergo the following surgery techniques:
- Reduction: In some cases, a technique called reduction is used to restore the position of broken bones. This treatment can be done by providing local anaesthesia. Mostly, before performing the procedure the surgeon will wait for a few days so that swelling is reduced. Later, the nose will be stabilized by using an external splint.
- Reconstructive Surgery: In other cases, a more detailed reconstructive surgery might be performed if the nose is badly injured.
Insertion of Drain Tube: If a transparent liquid is coming from your nose, you have to be admitted to the hospital. The fluid is called cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). In this case, the surgeon will put a drain tube in your back to change the direction of fluid from the injured site.