This is the cartilage in the nose that separates the nasal passages. Usually, it is located in the center and divides the nostrils uniformly.
However, in some people, this is not the case. Many people have a crooked septum, which makes one nostril larger than the other.
Severe inequality is known as a deviated septum. It can cause health complications such as a blocked nasal window or difficulty breathing.
A crooked septum is very common. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, 80 percent of all partitions deviate to some degree.
A deviated septum requires medical attention only if it causes other health problems or if it hurts the quality of life.
What causes a deviated septum?
A deviated septum can be congenital. This means that a person was born with that. It can also occur as a result of a nose injury.
People often get these injuries from contact sports, fights, or car accidents. A deviated septum can also worsen with age.
What are the symptoms of a deviated septum?
Most people with a deviated septum have only a minor deviation. The symptoms are unlikely in these cases. Still, possible symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing, primarily through the nose.
- Have a side of the nose that is easier to breathe.
- Nasal hemorrhages.
- Sinus infections.
- Dryness in a nostril
- Snoring or noisy breathing during sleep.
- Nasal congestion or pressure
Severe deviation can be accompanied by facial pain. You should consult your doctor if you frequently have nosebleeds or sinus infections.
You should also see a doctor if difficulty breathing affects your quality of life.
How is a deviated septum diagnosed?
To diagnose a deviated septum, your doctor first examines your nasal passages with a nasal speculum.
The doctor verifies the location of the septum and how it affects the size of the nasal passages. The doctor will also ask about sleep, snoring, sinus problems, and difficulty breathing.
How is a deviated septum treated?
In most cases, treatment is not necessary. For a severely deviated septum, surgery is the standard treatment option.
Due to costs, risks, or other factors, some people with a deviated septum choose not to undergo surgery. Other treatment options are available.
They do not resolve a deviated septum, but they can diminish its symptoms.
To help with the symptoms, the treatment focuses on correcting that problem. Common treatments for symptoms include:
- Nasal steroid aerosols
- Nasal strips
If your symptoms do not improve with medications or other attempts at treatment, your doctor may suggest reconstructive surgery called septoplasty.
Preparation: To prepare, you should avoid taking medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen for two weeks before and after surgery.
These drugs can increase your risk of bleeding. It would help if you also stopped smoking, as it may interfere with healing.
Procedure: Septoplasty lasts about 90 minutes and is performed under anesthesia. According to the surgeon and your specific case, you can receive local or general anesthesia.
A surgeon cuts the septum and removes excess cartilage or bone during the procedure.
This straightens the septum and its nasal passage. Silicone splints can be inserted into each nostril to support the septum. Then, the wound in the incision is closed with sutures.
Complications: you will be checked immediately after surgery for complications, and you may be able to go home the same day.
Septoplasty is usually a safe procedure for most people who can undergo anesthesia. The remaining risks include:
- Change of shape of the nose.
- Persistence in problems even after surgery.
- Excessive bleeding
- Decreased sense of smell
- Temporary numbness in the upper gums and teeth.
- Septal hematoma (mass of blood).
How is recovery after septoplasty?
During the recovery from septoplasty, your doctor may give you medication.
Taking it may reduce your risk of postoperative infection or may help control pain or discomfort. It is essential to take all medications prescribed by your doctor.
You also want to avoid interrupting your nose while it heals. The septum becomes relatively stable between three and six months after surgery.
Some changes may occur up to a year later. To avoid this, avoid hitting your partition as much as possible.
After the procedure, you can help heal by following these tips:
- Do not blow your nose.
- Raise your head when you are sleeping.
- Avoid strenuous exercise, including cardio.
If left untreated, a severely deviated septum can cause complications. A common complication is the obstruction of one or both nostrils. This can cause:
- Chronic problems of sinusitis.
- Noisy breathing during sleep.
- Sleep interrupted.
- Only being able to sleep on one side.
Other complications include:
- Nasal hemorrhages.
- Facial pain
- Dry mouth.
- Disturbed sleep.
- Pressure or congestion in the nostrils.
A deviated septum can not cause any problems and may not require treatment. In some cases, a deviated septum can cause other complications.
These include sleep apnea, snoring, congestion, shortness of breath, infections, or nosebleeds.
Severe cases may require surgery. If you have a deviated septum that may need treatment, discuss your options with your doctor.