If your injury is severe, you'll need to seek immediate medical attention and won't have time to prepare for your appointment. But, if the injury to your nose is less severe — accompanied only by swelling and moderate pain — you may choose to wait before seeing your doctor. This allows time for the swelling to subside, so you and your doctor can better evaluate your injury.
However, it's best not to wait longer than three to five days before seeing your doctor if your signs and symptoms persist. And, during this waiting period, get medical attention if:
- The pain or swelling doesn't progressively improve
- Your nose looks misshapen or crooked after the swelling recedes
- You can't breathe efficiently through your nose even after the swelling subsides
- You experience frequent, recurring nosebleeds
- You're running a fever
When you make an appointment, you'll probably start by seeing your family doctor or general practitioner. However, he or she is likely to refer you to a doctor who specializes in disorders of the ear, nose and throat.
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and to know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, and let your doctor know what you were doing at the time of the injury.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements you're taking.
- Bring a photo of yourself before the injury for comparison, if possible.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. For a broken nose, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Do I need any tests, such as X-rays?
- How long will the swelling and bruising last?
- Will my nose look the same?
- Do I need surgery?
- Should I restrict my activity?
- What type of pain medication can I take?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home? What websites do you recommend?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor may ask:
- How and when did your injury occur?
- Have your symptoms improved at all since the time of the injury?
- Does your nose look normal to you?
- Can you easily breathe through your nose?
- Do you participate in contact sports? If so, how long do you plan on participating in this sport?
What you can do in the meantime
Immediately after your injury, apply ice to the area to help keep swelling down. Use light pressure to keep the ice on your nose. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), can help reduce pain. Ibuprofen also can help relieve inflammation.
Jul. 06, 2011
- Pope TT, et al. Maxillofacial and neck trauma. In: Stone CK, et al. Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Emergency Medicine. 6th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Medical; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=3101510. Accessed May 25, 2011.
- Fractures of the nose. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/print/sec21/ch312/ch312d.html. Accessed May 25, 2011.
- Ondik MP, et al. The treatment of nasal fractures: A changing paradigm. Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery. 2009;11:296.
- Mendez DR, et al. Nasal trauma and fractures in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 21, 2011.
- Nasal fractures. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/Nasal-Fractures.cfm. Accessed May 25, 2011.