Having a deviated septum is fairly common. So how do you know when it’s time to see a doctor? Read on to learn the signs.
Of course you know that you have two nostrils. But did you know that they can be different sizes?
Your nostrils and nasal cavity are divided into halves by your nasal septum. Ideally, that separation should be equal, but in as many as 80% of the population, it isn’t.
This asymmetrical quality is what’s called a deviated septum. While not everyone with a deviated septum has symptoms, there are some signs to look out for.
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- Frequent sinus infections: A deviated septum can prevent adequate drainage of your sinuses, which can lead to infections.
- Difficulty breathing: A crooked septum can obstruct one or both nostrils, making it difficult for you to breathe through your nose.
- Frequent nosebleeds: When your septum is deviated, your nasal passages can be drier, which, in turn, can cause more frequent nosebleeds.
- Difficulty sleeping: Anyone who has ever had a cold knows how hard it can be to sleep when you can’t breathe through your nose properly. Those with a deviated septum may favor sleeping on one side of their body for easier breathing. It can also cause loud nighttime breathing, or snoring, which could disturb a partner’s sleep.
“If you have severe nasal obstruction, and allergy and sinus medications do not improve your breathing, you may be an excellent candidate for nasal airway surgery,” says Amit Kochhar, MD, director of the USC Facial Nerve Center at Keck Medicine of USC and clinical assistant professor of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery at at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “The best place to begin is an appointment with your ear nose and throat specialist or facial plastic surgeon. They have the best training to diagnose if your underlying issue is a deviated septum. If so, a small surgical procedure may be all you need to dramatically improve your breathing and quality of life.”
The standard treatment for a deviated septum is septoplasty. During the surgery, your surgeon will reposition and straighten your septum so it is straight. They may have to cut and remove parts of it, then reinsert them to get them in the proper position. Septoplasty may be done on its own or in conjunction with rhinoplasty to reshape the nose itself.
by Anne Fritz