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Understanding Broken Nose (Nasal Fracture) in Children

Three-quarter view of child's face showing nasal bones and cartilage.A nasal fracture is a break in one or more of the bones of the nose. It’s also called a broken nose. Nasal fractures are more common in adults than in children. Children’s nasal bones are more difficult to fracture. But the nasal bone is one of the most commonly fractured bones of the face. The lower part of the nasal bone is thinner than the upper part and breaks more easily. In babies, nasal fracture can cause trouble breathing. This is because babies can’t breathe through their mouths. A baby with nasal fracture may need emergency treatment.

The bones of the nose

Two nasal bones lie side by side in the nose. These bones form the bridge of the nose. They help support the upper part of the nose. They also help support the cartilage that forms the lower part of the nose. The septum separates the left and right sides of your nose. It is made of cartilage and parts of several other nasal bones. These are known as the ethmoid bone, the vomer bone, the maxillary bone, and the palatine bone. A nasal fracture is a break in 1 of the nasal bones or in 1 or more of the bones that make up the nasal septum.

What causes a nasal fracture?

Injury to the nose causes nasal fracture. This can happen during:

  • A fall

  • Contact sports

  • Weightlifting

  • Automobile accident

  • Child abuse

Most nasal injury does not cause nasal fracture.

What are the symptoms of a nasal fracture?

Symptoms of a nasal fracture in your child may include:

  • Nosebleed

  • Swelling

  • Bruising of the nose

  • Bruising under the eye

  • Pain when touching the nose

  • Crunching sound when touching the nose

  • Difficulty breathing out of the nose

  • Change in shape of the nose

 How is a nasal fracture diagnosed?

The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s health history. He or she will ask about the event that caused the injury. Your child will have a physical exam. This will include both an internal and external exam of the nose. Nasal fracture often occurs with other injuries, so your child’s eyes and teeth may also be examined. Your child may need an imaging test, such as and X-ray or a  CT scan. These are painless tests that can create detailed images of the injured area.

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