Deviated Septum

1 What is Deviated Septum?

A deviated septum occurs when the nasal septum (thin wall between the two nasal passages) is displaced to one side. This makes one nasal passage smaller.

It can block one side of the nose cursing airflow obstruction or breathing difficulties in severe cases. Nasal obstruction can occur as a result of a deviated septum, swelling from tissues surrounding the nasal passage or from both.

Surgery is required for the correction of a deviated septum. In cases of nasal obstruction, reducing the swelling by administering certain medications or nasal dilators can be helpful.

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2 Symptoms

Most people with deviated septum may not experience any symptoms. Some of the symptoms that can be experienced by other people include:

  • Obstruction of one or both nostrils.
  • Nasal bleeds
  • Facial pain
  • Noisy breathing during sleep- this mostly occurs in infants and young children.
  • Preference of sleeping on one side to ease nose breathing at night.
  • Awareness of the nasal cycle ( a cycle in which the nose alternates being obstructed one one side, then changing to being obstructed on the other side).

3 Causes

Deviated septum can be caused from injury during childbirth or trauma during sport activities or automobile accidents. A deviated septum can be congentital ( a person is born with it). A deviated nasal septum can get worse with age.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Doctors can diagnose and determine the seriousness of a deviated septum by examining the nasal septum. It's done by using a bright light and a nasal speculum- an instrument that can spread the nostrils, to check if a patient has a deviated septum.

Sometimes doctors may use a lone tube-shaped scope with a bright light to examine the back of the nose. Doctors may also look at the tissue surrounding the nasal cavity before and after applying decongestant spray to check for signs of swellingv

5 Treatment

The initial treatment of a deviated septum is aimed at reducing symptoms which may contribute to nasal obstruction and drainage. This can be achieved by administering decongestants, antihistamines and nasal sprays.

Decongestants are medications that decrease the nasal swelling and keep the airways on both sides of the nose.

Decongestants can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Antihistamines help prevent allergy symptoms, such as obstruction and runny nose.

These medications can cause drowsiness and can affect the ability to perform tasks that require physical coordination. It is important to note that medications only reduce the swelling in the nasal passage but do not correct a deviated septum.

Surgical repair septoplasty, can be used to correct a deviated septum. During this procedure the nasal septum is straightened and repositioned in the center of the nose. Surgeons may need to cut out parts of the septum before repositioning it.

In some cases rhinoplasty-surgery to reshape the nose, is carried out at the same time as septoplasty. Both the bone and cartilage of the nose are reshaped in rhinoplasty.

6 Prevention

Preventing injuries by wearing helmets when playing contact sports or wearing a seat belt when riding a motorized vehicle can reduce the risks of having a deviated septum.

7 Risks and Complications

Risk factors for having a deviated septum include playing contact sports and not wearing seat belt while riding in a motorized vehicle.

Severe cases of deviated septum can lead to nasal obstruction. If this condition persists it can lead to:

  • Dry mouth due to chronic mouth breathing
  • A feeling of congestion in the nasal passages
  • Trouble sleeping due to uncomfortable breathing