Understanding a Deviated Septum
Written By: Emma Squillace
Did you know that you probably have a deviated septum? It’s estimated that 80% of the population does. Most people who have a deviated septum have it to such a small degree that they’d never know. However, for some, they have a more severe deviation that causes problems for them. Today we’ll help you understand exactly what a deviated septum is, and how it can be treated.
What exactly does a ‘deviated septum’ mean?
The septum is what divides your nose into two nostrils. It’s a thin divider made up of bone and cartilage, and ideally separates the nostril cavity into 2 equal parts. In most people, this septum is slightly crooked – it deviates from the ideal center position – and this is why we say deviated septum.
What causes a deviated septum?
Many people who have a deviated septum are born with it. For others, an injury or trauma to the face can misalign their nose or septum. Sometimes this injury happens during childbirth. It can also be caused by a sports injury, car accident, or a fall.
Is a deviated septum always a problem?
No. For plenty of people, they’d never even know they have a deviated septum. A slight crooked septum, or uneven separation of your nasal cavity, may go completely unnoticed. For others, they may get slightly stuffier than other people, or somewhat more likely to snore. The majority of people with a deviated septum don’t need treatment. On the other hand, some people have a deviated septum that interferes with breathing or sleeping.
What are signs of a deviated septum?
While many people have no signs of a deviated septum, others will have symptoms. These can include snoring, nosebleeds, recurring sinus infections, and difficulty breathing through one – or both – sides of your nose. If you have ongoing symptoms that may be caused by a deviated septum, it’s best to see an expert for diagnosis.
What type of doctor should I see if I think I may have a deviated septum?
The best type of doctor to see is called an otolaryngologist, or ENT for short. This stands for Ear Nose and Throat specialist. These doctors are highly trained experts, and can help you understand if you have a deviated septum, as well as explain your options for treatment. At West Medical, all our ENTs are board certified and experts in their field.
What are the treatment options for a deviated septum?
If your symptoms are affecting your quality of life, there are both surgical and non-surgical treatments you can try. The non-surgical treatment options include decongestants, antihistamines, and nasal sprays. There are pros and cons to each of these medical options, so it’s important to consult with a doctor to figure out which option may help you the most. If your deviated septum does not respond well to medical options, we offer surgery as a treatment as well.
What is deviated septum surgery like?
If you and your doctor decide that surgery is the best treatment for your deviated septum, you’ll have a procedure called a septoplasty. During the operation you will be fully asleep, and can generally go home later the same day. The surgeon will reposition your septum so it’s as straight as possible. In some cases, this includes cutting or removal of parts of the septum.
If you think you may have a deviated septum, and it’s interfering with your quality of life, a consultation with an ENT is the best place to start. Common reasons we see patients for a possible deviated septum include recurring sinus infections, nosebleeds, and trouble breathing through the nose. Our ENT specialists would be happy to meet with you and explain your treatment options. To ask us a question or schedule a consultation, please call our offices at (855) 690-0565.