Could I Have a Deviated Septum?
Written By: Emma Squillace
Do you have a friend of family member that’s mentioned they have a deviated septum? Chances are, you do. Even though most deviated septums are not severe enough to need treatment, it is a medical condition that affects over 3/4ths of people. Some who have a deviated septum were born that way. Others had a sports injury as a kid that caused this – even if they don’t remember it happening. Whether your nose has been this way from birth, or some kind of injury or accident caused the deviation in your septum, you may live the rest of your life never having negative side effects. However, for some people, their deviated septum is severe enough that it causes problems.
Diagnosing a deviated septum
To understand a deviated septum, we just need to think about the name. “Deviated” means something that has gone off-course, or strays from the expected. Your “septum” is a thin section of cartilage and bone that divides your nose into two parts. The septum is the separator of your nostrils. In an ideal case, the septum runs straight down your nose and divides it into two equally sized and shaped parts. However, when someone has a deviated septum, this thin layer of bone and cartilage differs from the expected, straight, central placement. This deviation may be minor, or severe.
When a deviated septum is not a problem
The good news is that a deviated septum is not a problem in many cases. Sometimes you may suspect you have a slight deviation in your septum if your nose looks crooked. Although there are other reasons for an asymmetrical nose, this is one of the more common ones. In addition, people with a deviation in their septum might be more likely to get bloody noses, feel stuffy, or snore when they sleep. If these effects are mild, it may never matter that you have a deviated septum. An official diagnosis and treatment could be unwarranted. However, if these symptoms are more severe, it’s important to know if a deviated septum is to blame.
When a deviated septum IS a problem
Some people have a deviated septum that interferes with their breathing and sleeping. This is when the condition is a problem. What’s tricky is that it may be hard to know if your symptoms are being caused by a deviated septum, or by other seemingly similar issues like allergies or sleep apnea. Common signs of a deviated septum are:
- Recurring nosebleeds
- Trouble breathing through your nose
- Snoring when you sleep
- Feeling stuffy, especially if this congestion feels worse on one side
- Chronic sinus infections
These symptoms are not simply frustrating, they can have a major impact on your quality of life. This is especially true if a deviated septum is interfering with your ability to sleep well. The good news is that a deviated septum can be corrected.
Treating a deviated septum
Some people are able to get sufficient relief from a deviated septum with medical treatments like nasal sprays and decongestants. This may be a good first treatment to try, and if you come in to West Medical for a consultation, we will talk to you about the pros and cons of medical treatment. Beyond these options, there is a safe and effective surgical procedure called a septoplasty that can fix and straighten the septum.
For people who are suffering from symptoms like nose bleeds, congestion, trouble breathing, and snoring, a deviated septum may be the cause. However, there are many other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, so the best first step is to see an ENT physician for a consultation. To learn more about deviated septums, or schedule an appointment with an ENT, please call our offices at (855) 690-0565.