The thin wall between your nasal passages is called your nasal septum. When this thin wall is displaced to one side as seen in the photo below, it is called a deviated septum. Nearly 80% of the population has some degree of septal deviation that is noticeable by an ENT or examiner. While it is extremely common, it does not require any treatment unless complications derive from the condition. A deviated septum can make the nasal passageway smaller than it should be leading to nasal congestion or in more severe cases, reduced airflow making it difficult to breathe. If you begin to have complications due to a deviated septum, treatment options may need to be explored. We will dig into this shortly, but first, let’s discuss what causes it.
What Causes A Deviated Septum?
A deviated septum can be caused by injury to the nose or can be present at birth. Nose injuries are very common, especially in children who are active in physical contact sports. Other common sources of injury include rough play such as wrestling or automobile accidents. Regardless of the cause of the nose injury, it can result in the nasal septum moving out of position. For infants, it could be something that occurs during the fetal development process or an injury resulting from the childbirth process.
Signs & Symptoms
The normal aging process and other sinus complications such as rhinitis can create further narrowing of the nasal passageway making symptoms more apparent. Some common symptoms resulting from a deviated septum include but are not limited to:
-Snoring/Noisy breathing while sleeping
-Nasal Obstruction (Meaning full blockage making it difficult to breathe out of one or both nostrils. You may notice this more when experiencing allergies or sinus infection.
-Reoccurring sinus infections
If you frequently experience these symptoms and they are interfering with the overall quality of your life, it’s probably time to schedule an appointment with your local ear, nose, and throat doctor for an evaluation.
Treatment recommendations will depend on the severity of your particular situation and symptoms. Typically medication is the first step to offer relief. If prescribed medication does not offer adequate relief, the next step is surgery. Deviated Septum Surgery is called a Septoplasty. This procedure is done under general anesthesia. An incision is made inside the nostril and the deviated portions of the bone and cartilage are either removed or reshaped leaving behind enough bone and cartilage to maintain the shape of the nose. If needed, soft splints will be placed inside the nose to help with healing and reduce scar tissue formation.
A Septoplasty is typically an outpatient procedure in which patients are released after the effects of anesthesia have worn off. Your nose will probably be swollen and painful and have some bleeding. Pain medication will be prescribed as needed and physical activity should be avoided for a few weeks post surgery to ensure swelling and proper healing. It is advised to elevate your head while sleeping, not blowing your nose for a few days and avoiding pulling clothing over your head to help with a quicker recovery time. While the overall healing process may be slow, you can expect to notice a change in your breathing shortly after the procedure.
If you have a deviated septum or have been suffering symptoms that are impacting your overall quality of life, Camellia ENT would love to sit down with you and discuss a customized course of action. Contact Camellia ENT today.