The nasal septum is basically a wall inside the nose, made up of bone and cartilage, which divides the nasal cavity in half. Preferably, this wall should directly run through the nasal cavity’s midline, dividing it into two passageways of equal size. However, if this wall is significantly off-center, you might have a deviated septum. Some people are born with it, while some acquire it following an injury to the nose.
How a Deviated Septum Is Detected
When a person has a deviated septum, the difference in size of the nasal passageways can be very significant that it results in an obstruction in both or only one nostril. Due to this, a deviated septum can lead to many different issues such as the following:
- Nasal congestion
- Breathing difficulties
- Recurrent sinus infections
- Sinus drainage issues in the obstructed nostril
- Recurrent nosebleeds
- Postnasal drip
- Facial pain because of an underlying sinus infection
- Sleep apnea
These warning signs are typically more severe on the side that’s obstructed. In mild cases, though, symptoms typically go undetected until you acquire a cold that can in turn trigger congestion and breathing issues.
How a Deviated Septum Is Diagnosed
An otolaryngologist, commonly known as an ear, nose, and throat doctor or simply ENT, can evaluate your case and conduct a physical examination to figure whether your deviated septum is causing your nasal problems. Your ENT will ask about any symptoms you might be experiencing. You should inform her of nose-related problem you’ve experienced in the past such as a nasal surgery or injury. Your ENT will have to utilize a nasal speculum in order to spread your nostrils and check their inner surfaces using a lighted device.
Treating a Deviated Septum
A nasal septum that’s slightly off-center is fairly common and won’t require treatment if it isn’t causing any issues. However, if your ENT finds that it’s causing you all sorts of nasal symptoms such as frequent nosebleeds, nasal airway obstruction, or chronic sinusitis, you might need to treat your symptoms and get it under control. However, before your ENT explores surgery, you’ll have to try medications first such as a steroid spray for your nose to see if it will resolve your breathing issues.
However, if medication can’t get your symptoms under control, the next possible treatment is septoplasty, a surgical procedure used for correcting your deviated septum. Depending on the severity of the deviated septum, a renowned ENT in Colorado can say that rhinoplasty, a surgical procedure used for reshaping the nose, might also be performed, along with septoplasty. Septoplasty usually lasts up to 60 or 90 minutes, and the majority of patients can go straight home after the procedure. Note, though, that you’ll need approximately a week for healing and at least a month for a complete recovery.
The key takeaway—depending on the severity of a deviated septum, it might not cause you any problems, so you might not have to get it treated. However, it can cause serious complications that might require septoplasty. The important thing is to get it checked out by an ENT to determine how you can address your symptoms.