What is deviated nasal septum?
The nasal septum is the wall dividing the nasal cavity into halves. The ideal nasal septum is exactly midline, separating the left and right sides of the nose into passageways of equal size. However, 80 percent of all nasal septums are off-center, this is called a deviated nasal septum.
The shape of your nasal cavity can easily lead to chronic infection of the sinus. The symptoms are usually worse on one side, and sometimes actually occur on the side opposite the bend. In some cases the crooked septum can interfere with the drainage of the sinuses, resulting in repeated sinus infections.
How common is deviated nasal septum?
Deviated nasal septum is thought to be the second most frequent type of tumor worldwide (after ameloblastoma). However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of deviated nasal septum?
Most septal deformities cause no symptoms, and you may not even notice that you have a deviated septum. However, some septal deformities may cause some following signs and symptoms:
- Obstruction of one or both nostrils: This obstruction can make it difficult to breathe through the nostril or nostrils, especially when you have a cold (upper respiratory tract infection) or allergies.
- Nosebleeds: The surface of your nasal septum may become dry, increasing your risk of nosebleeds.
- Facial pain: Though there is some debate about the possible nasal causes of facial pain, a severe deviated septum that impacts the inside nasal wall, can sometimes cause one-sided facial pain.
- Noisy breathing during sleep: This can occur in infants and young children with a deviated septum or with swelling of the intranasal tissues.
- Awareness of the nasal cycle: It is normal for the nose to alternate being obstructed on one side, then changing to being obstructed on the other. This is called the nasal cycle. The nasal cycle is a normal phenomenon, but being aware of the nasal cycle is unusual and can be an indication that there is an abnormal amount of nasal obstruction.
- Preference for sleeping on a particular side: Some people may prefer to sleep on a particular side in order to optimize breathing through the nose at night. This can be due to a deviated septum that narrows one nasal passage.
When should I see my doctor?
Early diagnosis and treatment can stop deviated nasal septum from worsening and prevent another medical emergency, so talk to your doctor as soon as possible to prevent this serious condition.
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes deviated nasal septum?
A deviated septum can be caused by:
- A condition present at birth: In some cases, a deviated septum occurs during fetal development and is apparent at birth.
- Injury to the nose: A deviated septum can also be the result of an injury that causes the nasal septum to be moved out of position.
What increases my risk for deviated nasal septum?
Risk factors of this condition may include:
- Playing contact sports
- Not wearing your seat belt while riding in a motorized vehicle
Diagnosis & Treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is deviated nasal septum diagnosed?
During your visit, your doctor will first ask about any symptoms you may experience.
To check over the inside of your nose, the doctor will use a bright light and sometimes an instrument name nasal speculum designed to spread open your nostrils. Sometimes the doctor will check frther back in your nose with a long thin tube attached to a small camera and a bright light at the tip.
The doctor may also look at your nasal tissues before and after applying a decongestant spray to see if there is any other cause of congestant in your nasal cavity. Then based on this exam, he or she can diagnose a deviated septum and determine the seriousness of your condition.
If your doctor is not an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist) and treatment is deemed necessary, you may be referred to a specialist for further consultation and treatment.
How is deviated nasal septum treated?
Surgery may be the recommended treatment if the deviated septum is causing troublesome nosebleeds or recurrent sinus infections. Additional testing may be required in some circumstances.
Septoplasty is a surgical procedure performed entirely through the nostrils accordingly, no bruising or external signs occur. During the surgery, badly deviated portions of the septum may be removed entirely, or they may be readjusted and reinserted into the nose.
If your deviated septum doesn’t cause many problems in your life, but is uncomfortable when you have a cold or allergy, the doctor might recommend ways to manage it.
Your doctor may prescribe:
- Decongestants. Decongestants are medications that reduce nasal tissue swelling, helping to keep the airways on both sides of your nose open.
- Antihistamines. Antihistamines are medications that help prevent allergy symptoms, including obstruction and runny nose.
- Nasal steroid sprays. Prescription nasal corticosteroid sprays can reduce inflammation in your nasal passage and help with obstruction or drainage.
Medications only treat the swollen mucus membranes and won’t correct a deviated septum.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage deviated nasal septum?
You may be able to prevent the injuries to your nose that can cause a deviated septum with these precautions:
- Wear a helmet or a mask when playing contact sports, such as football and volleyball.
- Wear a seat belt when riding in a motorized vehicle.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
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