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Suspected broken nose

Patient information A-Z

Who is the leaflet for?

Patients who have attended the emergency department after sustaining a nose injury.

The bone in your nose is very thin and is easily broken. When your nose is injured, it swells and the injury can look much worse than it really is. Often, when the swelling goes down, no treatment is required.

Your visit to the emergency department

You will have been examined by a doctor or an emergency nurse practitioner to assess the severity of your injury.

This type of injury does not require an x-ray whilst you are in the emergency department. It is usually possible to determine from examining you whether you have a suspected broken nose.

After you leave the emergency department your nose may start to bleed again, if it does, sit up and lean forwards over a bowl.

  • Do not tilt your head back
  • Try not to swallow any blood as this can make you feel very sick
  • Pinch the soft part of your nose just below the bony area on both sides
  • Hold an ice pack to the top of your nose and forehead

If the bleeding has not stopped after 20 minutes of continuous pressure, go to your nearest emergency department.

Important points to remember

It is important to rest following this type of injury and avoid any strenuous activity over the next 24 hours. Too much activity may give you a headache or increase the pain in your nose.

  • Do not blow your nose for the first week following your injury
  • Take regular pain relief that has been suggested or prescribed for you by the doctor or emergency nurse practitioner
  • Applying cold packs to the nose three or four times a day for 10 minutes for the first 24 hours following your injury can help reduce the pain in your nose and reduce the swelling to the area.

The swelling will gradually subside and your nose may then look normal.

When you leave the emergency department an appointment in the ENT clinic will have been made for you. If you think that your nose is back to its normal size and you do not wish to have an operation to straighten your nose, please cancel your appointment.

Urgent advice: In an emergency

Please contact the emergency department on 01223 217118 if:

  • you need any further advice whilst awaiting your appointment
  • you feel that your condition is worsening
  • you feel that you are developing new symptoms

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

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Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151