In order to keep roads in working condition, construction is necessary. But things are also slowed down by construction. We’ve all been stuck in a construction-caused traffic jam. The entire system crawls to a slow when thousands of cars slam on their breaks from even a slight lane change.
So, just for a minute, stay with this one… a highway and your nostrils are similar in a certain way. Air moves in and out, mucus moves in and out, and both of these functions are important to keep you healthy. A piece of tissue, known as the septum, divides the right nostril (lane, if you will) and the left nostril.
But when that septum is deviated, when it’s less than straight, roadblocks in your nose can happen. And, well, mucus can become similar to a traffic jam. To get to the point, problems begin to happen when things slow down and your nose doesn’t function as it should.
What’s a deviated septum?
The septum is a small strip of tissue that divides your right and left nasal passages. Ideally, this piece of tissue should be straight. However, occasionally, this wall of tissue is moved to one side or the other. Hence the name, “deviated septum”. So what causes a deviated septum? On occasion, it occurs because of a traumatic incident; in other cases, you may simply be born with a deviated septum.
Issues, from trouble breathing, sleeping, or prolonged sinus infections can be brought on by a deviated septum. So you should get in touch with us or your provider about your options if you think you might be dealing with a deviated septum.
If I had a deviated septum, how would I know?
In some instances, a deviated septum can be rather free of symptoms. But some situations don’t follow this course. A deviated septum will, in many cases, show a number of possible indications. Here are some of the most prominent indications of a deviated septum:
- Postnasal Drip: Your sinuses, nose, throat, and ears are all linked. So mucus will drip back down into your throat when your nose is plugged. Postnasal drip is the term for this. If you experience this sensation frequently, it might be due to a deviated septum.
- Noisy breathing: In some cases, your breathing itself can begin to be noisy, particularly during hard physical activity or while you are asleep.
- Excess Snoring: Your sleep cycle can be adversely impacted by a deviated septum. This means increased snoring for some. Sleep disruptions like sleep apnea can be the result for other people.
- Headaches: Sometimes, a deviated septum can cause an interruption to the regular flow of air and drainage of your sinuses. This can result in headaches (especially headaches located in the front of your head).
- Sinus infections: One sinus infection probably does not mean you have a deviated septum. But your nasal passages won’t always drain fully with a deviated septum. Over time, this can bring about chronic or repeated sinus infections. So, if every time you catch a cold, it turns into a sinus infection, a deviated septum could be at the root of your issue.
- Facial Pain: In the same way, your deviated septum can cause facial pain. This is because your nasal cavities and sinuses are experiencing a higher than average amount of pressure.
- Nasal congestion: Breathing or smelling might become very hard if you have blockage in one or both of your nostrils. Depending on the exact nature of your deviated septum, the congestion will normally be worse in one nostril than the other. If you find your nostrils are plugged up frequently, it may be an indication of a deviated septum.
- Reduced sense of smell: Your nose is a delicate instrument. So any disruption or injury to it, including a deviated septum, can change the way air flows, and reduce your sense of smell as an outcome.
- Frequent nosebleeds: When you’re dealing with a deviated septum, moisture can’t always go everywhere it needs to be (it’s that traffic jam causing problems). Your nasal cavities may, as a result, dry out. This can lead to frequent nosebleeds.
So, what kind of symptoms will a deviated cause in you? It depends, you may experience all of these issues. Or, perhaps only a few will manifest. A correct diagnosis can only come from your provider.
How is a deviated septum diagnosed?
Naturally, you’ll want to have it assessed once you start noticing symptoms. So what should you anticipate when you come in for an appointment? In general, most appointments will start with a conversation about your medical history. We will chat with you about things like whether you’ve been having persistent sinus infections, when your symptoms started, and if you’ve been snoring. We’ll also likely want to talk about past nasal injuries or surgeries because each of those can raise the chances that you have a deviated septum.
We will also conduct a physical examination. Normally, we will use special equipment to look into your nose. We will try to identify the condition of your septum by carefully opening your nostrils to get a better look. We will be able to see if anything is shaped unusually or if there is a blockage.
We may also use numerous diagnostics, such as the following:
- Nasal endoscopy: So we can get a better look into your nose, we will insert this thin, flexible tube with a little camera on the end.
- Imaging studies: This may include an MRI or a CT scan.
- Allergy testing: Since allergies can contribute to nasal inflammation, allergy tests are frequently performed to rule out that possibility.
Once we have completed all these tests, we’re normally able to diagnose you with a deviated septum (or rule one out if your septum is straight).
How do you fix a deviated septum?
Clearly, treatment will be next after you find out you have a deviated septum. Here are a few approaches we may take to treat your deviated septum:
Non Surgical Approaches
- Medication: Nasal steroids or nasal decongestants are in this group. However, these typically treat only surface level symptoms and not the underlying cause.
- Allergy management: If your allergies are contributing to your clogged up nose, it makes sense to manage them as much as you can.
- Nasal strips: During some physical activities, or while sleeping, these can help. They may be helpful in cases that are on the borderline.
- Septoplasty: Sometimes called “deviated septum surgery,” septoplasty is a surgical procedure created to straighten a deviated septum. Your septum can be effectively repositioned when this procedure is performed by an ENT. This is frequently the most prevalent and effective treatment for a deviated septum.
- Turbinate reduction: There are small structures on the side of the nose called turbinates. Sometimes, they can grow enlarged, exacerbating any nasal congestion you might be feeling. In some cases, in order to improve air and mucus flow, septoplasty is coupled with turbinate reduction surgery.
- Rhinoplasty: This surgery is designed to more generally correct the shape of your nose. Rhinoplasty is often combined with septoplasty when used to manage a deviated septum.
Don’t wait to get help
If construction is causing a roadblock, traffic will clear up when the construction is finished. But when you’re dealing with a deviated septum, that isn’t the situation. Unless you take the correct steps, those traffic jams will keep happening.
So give us a call for an assessment if you think you may have a deviated septum.