What is a deviated septum? Are you have difficulty breathing, nasal congestion, noisy breathing at night and no matter what you do it won’t go away? Your septum is the part between your nostrils that is made up of cartilage and bone. When your septum becomes deviated it is when that part of your nose between your nostrils is off center, or not straight. Some people are born with a deviated septum. Others when they grow can end up with a deviated septum. Also injury to your nose, such as a broken nose can cause a deviated septum. When there is a way to prevent yourself from injury by wearing protection while playing sports and wearing your seatbelt, if you are born with this condition or grow into it there isn’t anything you can do in the way of prevention.
If you think you may have a deviated septum there are some symptoms. Difficulty breathing, since one side of your nose maybe smaller than the other, or if your tissue is inflamed it can cause difficulty breathing as well. Other symptoms are nasal congestion, sinus infections, nosebleeds, sleep problems, headaches, post nasal drip, and noisy breathing while sleeping. Some people have noticed that sleeping on one side at night helps them be able to breathe better. A lot of these symptoms can be caused by other sinus conditions. If you think you have a deviated septum speak with a healthcare provider. If you see your primary care physician they may refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. The ENT specialist may run some further tests to see if you have a deviated septum, such as a CT scan or doing an in office scope of your nose to see what is truly going on. The doctor maybe able to tell just from a physical exam of your nose what is the true cause of all your symptoms.
After seeing a doctor there are some ways to try and treat a deviated septum. You can treat it with medication or surgery. Now even though your doctor may suggest medication it will help your symptoms and reduce any inflammation that is occurring but it will not correct a deviated septum. The only way to truly correct it is to have surgery.
There are multiple medications that you can try. Decongestants, pills or nasal sprays, will help reduce tissue swelling in your nose. Antihistamines that you would take to help prevent allergy symptoms may give you some relief from nasal congestion, and sneezing. Be careful in taking an antihistamine too much for it may cause your body to become dependant on them so if you stop taking them your symptoms may come back even worse. And nasal steroid sprays. The nasal steroid sprays will reduce inflammation, help with any nasal obstructions, and or drainage that is occuring. With a steroid it will take one to three weeks for the steroid to work at its maximum effectiveness so make sure you consult a doctor about these before using.
Surgery is the other option of correcting a deviated septum. An ENT specialist can perform the surgery. The surgery is called a septoplasty. It is usually scheduled as an outpatient procedure meaning you would go in for the surgery and be discharged same day. The surgery itself only takes between an hour to an hour and a half and usually done under general anesthesia.
During the procedure the surgeon will straighten the septum repositioning it to make sure it is completely straight. In doing so they may have to cut or remove parts of the septum to then put in all back together. Once straightening your septum they may use some small tubes, suture or splints to keep everything in line, which usually will dissolve in time.
After the surgery you may have packing, which is like a gauze put in your nose to reduce the bleeding. There maybe mild swelling and ice can help with that. Make sure to keep your head elevated to stop the bleeding. Restrictions after surgery will be no blowing your nose, no lifting anything heavy or over exerting yourself. It maybe easier to wear front closed shirts as opposed to putting shirts over your head. Also bending over will be restricted for sometime to make sure there is no added pressure put on your nose. After surgery you will want to rest. Your doctor may also tell you to do nasal irrigation. Which is taking distilled water and flushing out each side of your nose to make sure you reduce scab formation. Since you cannot blow your nose after surgery this helps keep your nose clean and healing. Your doctor may provide you with a nose squirter or you can purchase one at a drugstore. With any surgery there are always risks, and possible complications. Make sure you speak with your surgeon about these beforehand. Some are nasal obstruction, bleeding, chronic nasal drainage, eye damage, brain fluid leak, numbness of facial structure or septal perforation.
After surgery you should have no more issues with your deviated septum. There will be follow up exams with your surgeon and if any of the symptoms start to come back you should speak with a healthcare provider. The actual amount of relief that is given after the surgery can vary from person to person. Sometimes after surgery your septum can remove after the surgery causing another deviated septum though most of the time results are stable. Difficulty breathing is one of the main symptoms that people state is relieved after surgery.
So if you have any nasal concerns reach out to your doctor. A deviated septum can be wearisome to live and deal with if your symptoms are severe. With any of these symptoms even if it is not a deviated septum you will want to get it checked out to make sure there is nothing incredibly serious going on.