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Nasal trauma is an injury to your nose or the areas that surround and support your nose. Internal or external injuries can cause nasal trauma. The position of your nose makes your nasal bones, cartilage, and soft tissue particularly vulnerable to external injuries.
Common types of nasal trauma include:
Your nose has many blood vessels positioned close to the surface. As a result, nasal trauma often results in nosebleeds. Other symptoms can also arise. Your recommended treatment will depend on your specific condition and symptoms.
Symptoms of nasal trauma can range from mild to severe, depending on the type and extent of your injury. For example, symptoms of nasal trauma can include:
External nasal trauma can occur when force is exerted on your nose. Common causes of external nasal trauma include:
Internal nasal trauma can occur when the cartilage or the blood vessels inside your nose get damaged. Common causes of internal nasal trauma include:
Children often put themselves at risk of nasal injury by picking or putting objects up their nose.
Your doctor may use a variety of methods to diagnose nasal trauma. For example, they may:
In many cases, you can treat minor cases of nasal trauma at home, using basic first aid and home care strategies. In other cases, you may need professional treatment. Your doctor’s recommended treatment plan will vary, depending on the type and severity of nasal trauma that you have. For example, they may recommend:
To treat minor nosebleeds:
To treat blunt-force trauma to your nose:
To remove a foreign object from your nose:
You can treat most nosebleeds at home. But if you develop a nosebleed that lasts longer than 20 minutes or recurs frequently, contact your doctor. You may require blood tests or imaging of the nose to diagnose the cause. You may also require professional treatment.
Two common treatments of nosebleeds are nasal packing and cauterization. With packing, your doctor will place gauze or an inflatable balloon inside one or both nostrils to exert pressure on the broken blood vessels in order to stop your bleeding. In other cases, they may use cauterization to stop nosebleeds. In this procedure, they apply either a topical medication to the broken blood vessels or use a heating device to seal them closed.
Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications to help treat certain types of nasal trauma. For example, they may recommend:
If you experience a severe nasal fracture, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair it.
For example, your doctor can use a technique called reduction to push the broken pieces of bone back into place. They may complete this procedure in their office using local anesthesia. Or a surgeon may complete it in an operating room using general anesthesia. Typically, you need to wait a few days to allow swelling to decrease, before they can judge proper bone alignment and complete the procedure. Afterward, they will stabilize your nose with an external splint.
In other cases, you may need more intensive reconstructive surgery to repair a nasal fracture.
If your nasal fracture is accompanied by clear fluid coming from your nose, you will be admitted to the hospital. This is cerebrospinal fluid. Your doctor may insert a drain in your lower back to help change the course of the spinal fluid away from the injured area.
In most cases, the outlook for nasal trauma is good. In some cases, it may result in nasal deformities, scarring, or other complications.
For example, a nasal fracture can potentially damage the bones that attach your nose to your skull, allowing cerebrospinal fluid to leak. This damage also presents an opportunity for bacteria from your nose to reach your brain and spinal cord, which can cause meningitis.
Septal hematoma is another rare complication of nasal trauma. This happens when a collection of blood forms inside your nose. If left untreated, it can cause the cartilage in your nose to die, resulting in a deformed, collapsed nose.
You can prevent many types of nasal trauma by taking simple precautions. For example:
By following these simple steps, you can protect your nasal health and ward off potential injuries.
Written by: Anna Zernone Giorgi
Medically reviewed on: Aug 04, 2016: Judith Marcin, MD
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