Have you been having difficulty breathing? Or have you been having recurring nosebleeds? One probable reason for this could be a deviated septum.
The nasal septum is the wall of cartilage in the nose that separates it into two passageways (nostrils). Normally, the septum is at the center of the nose and divides the nostrils evenly. Though, in many people, their nasal septum is uneven, making one nostril larger than the other. This unevenness is known as a deviated septum.
A deviated septum can be congenital, meaning it’s already present from birth. However, most cases of a deviated septum are caused by injury from infancy, sports, or physical activity. Sometimes it may be a result of normal development.
As the nose and septum grow, the septum may sometimes veer towards the other side. Although it’s very common, a deviated septum requires medical treatment only if it causes major health issues, like chronic mouth breathing or sinusitis. Treatment may include prescription or surgery such as balloon septoplasty for deviated septum.
If you feel like you have a deviated septum, here are several signs and solutions that are common among people who have one:
Signs Of a Deviated Septum
Most cases of a deviated septum won’t require much attention. However, symptoms may arise, and ignoring these may make other conditions or issues worse.
Here are six common signs to look out for:
- Difficulty Of Breathing – Misalignment of the nasal septum makes it difficult for air to pass through your nose, making it hard for you to breathe. This is more noticeable when you have a cold or allergies that cause your nostrils to swell and narrow.
- Nasal Congestion or Headaches – Because air won’t flow freely through your nostrils, your head may sometimes feel stuffy. This pressure may lead to frequent headaches, which may cause your face to ache and feel sore.
- Nasal Cycle Awareness – Nasal congestion may alternate from one side and then changes to the other. This incident is called the nasal cycle. Normally, humans aren’t aware of this cycle, similar to the way humans aren’t conscious of blinking. Therefore, if you notice this cycle, then this could be a sign of a deviated septum.
- Recurring Nosebleeds – With air having a difficult time passing through your nose, the surface of your nasal septum may lack moisture and dry out, making it more prone to nosebleeds.
- Sinus Infections – The more clogged your nostrils are, the more you are at risk of developing nasal infections.
- Snoring or Loud Breathing During Sleep – Nasal congestion from a misaligned septum may cause you to snore or breathe loudly when you sleep. You may also have a hard time sleeping due to difficulty of breathing.
If not treated earlier, a severely deviated septum can lead to major health complications. Furthermore, a health care provider may help you with the treatment
A minor deviated septum is common, and no treatment is needed if it’s not causing you any major health issues. If further medical attention is needed, a health care professional who is a nose specialist will provide you with treatment. Treatment may include medication, surgery, or simply just prevention by protecting your nose.
Here’s an in-depth look at each of them:
Basic treatment of a deviated septum may be aimed at managing common symptoms. Your health care professional may prescribe:
- Decongestants – These are medications that reduce tissue swelling. Taking decongestants will keep your nasal passageways open, allowing air to enter and preventing nasal congestion. Decongestants are usually available as a pill or as a nasal spray.
- Antihistamines – Similar to decongestants, antihistamines are medications that help prevent allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose. Sometimes, antihistamines can help with nonallergic conditions that occur with someone who has a cold. However, taking antihistamines may cause drowsiness, which affects your ability to perform physical tasks.
- Nasal Steroid Sprays – Specially prescribed by a doctor, nasal sprays can reduce swelling in your nasal passageways and help drain nasal congestion. Usually, it takes one to three weeks for the steroid to take effect. So, it’s crucial to follow your doctor’s directions when using them.
- Septoplasty and Rhinoplasty
Keep in mind that medication will only treat and prevent common symptoms. If you’re still experiencing such symptoms, you may have to undergo surgery, or septoplasty, to correct your deviated septum. Your doctor will evaluate certain aspects, such as your age, health, or existing conditions, to see if you are eligible for a septoplasty.
Three main steps of a septoplasty are:
- Anesthesia – Surgeons will use local and general anesthesia to make you comfortable during the whole procedure. Local anesthesia will numb the nose, while general anesthesia will put you to sleep during the process.
- Repair – During a septoplasty, the septum is straightened and repositioned so that the septum will sit in the center of the nose. A surgeon may need to cut and remove certain parts of your nose of the deviated septum before positioning them in the center.
- Bandaging – Surgeons will wrap your nose with gauze. Depending on your post-surgery condition, surgeons may wrap your nose with more bandages.
Most surgeons perform a septoplasty right through the nose. In some cases, rhinoplasty (surgery to reshape the nose) is performed at the same time as septoplasty.
Rhinoplasty involves changing the nose’s size and shape by modifying its bone and cartilage. Furthermore, the outcome of both surgeries depends on the severity of the deviation. However, symptoms due to the deviated symptom could be cured.
Prevention is the key! If you don’t have a deviated septum at birth, you can follow steps to prevent such injuries. Protect your nose by wearing a helmet or mask when engaging in physical activity and sport or by wearing your seat belt when riding a vehicle.
Depending on the severity, a deviated septum may not cause any major health issues and may not require further treatment. Severe cases may need medical attention, and if ignored, it may lead to more health complications. Now that you are familiar and aware of the common symptoms and solutions of a deviated septum remember to immediately consult with a health care professional when you suspect signs of a deviated septum.