What is nasal packing?

Nasal Packing
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Nasal packing: Overview

After a nose injury or surgery, gauze is sometimes packed high up into the nose. It soaks up fluids that drain from the nose, such as blood. The doctor may change the gauze. Or the doctor may leave it in place for a few days.

Your face may look puffy. The skin near your eyes may be bruised. This may last for many days, but it will fade over time.

How can you care for yourself when you have nasal packing?


  • Avoid strenuous activities for 1 week or until your doctor says it is okay. These include bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, and aerobic exercise.
  • Ask your doctor when it is safe for you to drive.


  • Do not take aspirin, medicines that contain aspirin, or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) for 3 weeks after surgery unless your doctor says it is okay.
  • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.

Other instructions

  • Do not blow your nose for 1 week after surgery.
  • Do not put anything into your nose.
  • If you must sneeze, open your mouth and sneeze naturally.
  • Follow your doctor's advice for taking care of the packing. Your doctor may want to take it out at the doctor's office.
  • Use saline (saltwater) nasal washes to help keep your nasal passages open. This will wash out mucus and dried blood. You can buy saline nose washes at a grocery store or drugstore. Follow the instructions on the package. Or you can make your own at home. Add 1 teaspoon of non-iodized salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 2 cups of distilled or boiled then cooled water. Fill a squeeze bottle or neti pot with the nasal wash. Then put the tip into your nostril, and lean over the sink. With your mouth open, gently squirt the liquid. Repeat on the other side.

Nasal packing: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a new or worse fever.
  • You have new or worse redness, swelling, or pain.
  • You have bleeding through the nasal packing that is not slowing.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.

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