The nasal septum is the wall that separates the left and right sides of the nose. In the front of the nose it is made up of flexible cartilage and in the back is it made of bone. A deviated septum means the nasal septum is crooked. Minor abnormalities of the septum are common and harmless, and almost no one’s septum is perfectly straight.
Estimates are that 80 percent of people are born with a deviated septum, and others may develop a deviated septum as the result of an injury or trauma to the nose. Usually the condition goes unnoticed unless it causes problems such as difficulty breathing. A deviated septum can also cause secondary problems other than trouble breathing. Some patients who have a deviated septum are more likely to get frequent nosebleeds or recurrent sinusitis. Our Orange County and Los Angeles deviated septum surgery specialists can provide relief from this condition.
Deviated septum diagnosis
At a physical exam, your doctor will use a nasal speculum to spread the nostrils open to examine the inner structures of the nose. Your doctor should be able to diagnose a deviated septum simply by looking at the inside of the nose with a bright light and determine a treatment plan in accordance with your symptoms.
During this examination of your nose, your doctor may also detect other abnormalities causing nasal obstruction which can also be corrected, often in the same procedure, if you are a good candidate for surgical repair of a deviated septum.
Symptoms of deviated septum
The most common symptom of a deviated septum is poor breathing quality in one or both sides of the nose. Breathing may be more difficult either at night or during exercise. A deviated septum can also cause sinus pain near the ears or eyes and lead to chronic infections if it interferes with sinus drainage. If the deviation is significant, then surgical intervention can substantially improve the airflow. Our top LA and Orange County deviated septum surgery specialists are trained and skilled ENTs, skilled in all aspects of the procedure.
Often a slightly deviated septum will not cause any problems. However, some people have uncomfortable symptoms because of their deviated septum. These can include:
- Nosebleeds since the septum can become dry and lead to frequent nosebleeds.
- Obstruction to nostrils, usually one more than the other. The problem is usually more noticeable during a cold or if you have allergies, as the nasal passages swell and narrow.
- Facial pain if your septum comes into contact with the outside wall of the nose.
- Recurrent or chronic sinusitis. Sinus infections may arise from a deviated septum which blocks sinus drainage.
- Snoring or noisy breathing during sleep. Infants and young children usually have this symptom.
Treatment for deviated septum
Without surgery, a deviated septum cannot be cured. However, there are some nonsurgical treatments that can be used to manage some of the symptoms. These include:
- Decongestants. By keeping the airway open on each side of the nose, decongestants can help you breathe better. Decongestants come in pill form or as nasal spray, and are prescribed for short-term use only, as they may create dependency or a rebound effect when you stop taking them. Decongestants can cause jitteriness.
- Antihistamines. Antihistamines can relieve the symptoms of colds and allergies, such as a runny nose. These medications can cause drowsiness.
- Nasal sprays. The benefit of nasal sprays is they can help you breathe through your nose by reducing inflammation in the nasal passages. They are prescribed for short-term use only.
For patients who choose to reshape their nose or have a “nose job,” also known as rhinoplasty, a septoplasty can be performed in the same procedure. Rhinoplasty involves adjusting the bone and cartilage of the nose to change its appearance.
Surgical repair of a deviated septum is known as a septoplasty, a procedure used to correctly realign a crooked septum. This is an outpatient surgical procedure that is performed under general anesthesia. During the septoplasty, your nasal septum will be repositioned, which may require cutting and removing parts of the septum in order to move it.
A septoplasty is performed in about 90 minutes, depending on the deviation and if other procedures are performed concurrently. Patients are given general anesthesia so they are asleep during the procedure. Nasal packing may or may not be inserted in the nostrils to prevent postoperative bleeding.
Those who benefit most from a septoplasty have a significant septal abnormality of which the symptoms have not been adequately relieved by medication alone.
If you have breathing difficulties or you are experiencing symptoms of a deviated septum, please contact our West Medical ENT/Sinus Surgery offices at (855) 690-0565, and our helpful medical staff will answer any questions you have about your Los Angeles deviated septum surgery or other non-surgical options.
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