The septum is the wall dividing the cavity in your nose into two halves. When that wall moves too far away from center, it’s referred to as a deviated septum.
80 percent1 of people have a deviated septum but most are asymptomatic. Those who are symptomatic find difficulty breathing, experience headaches, or suffer with chronic sinus infections.
How to know if you have a deviated septum
If a crooked septum is blocking air from flowing into your nose evenly, one or both sides of the nose cavity can dry out. When the membranes inside the nose are dry it can cause a nosebleed. It’s common to occasionally see a drop or two of blood when blowing your nose. However, if you see more than that, or if a nosebleed occurs every day or so, see your ENT doctor. It may be the result of a deviated septum.
2: Frequent headaches
When air flow is restricted through your nasal passageways, it can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches your brain, causing headaches. If you realize that you are having headaches frequently, and/or if you feel that your head is always pounding, think about how you are breathing. If it seems as though it is always difficult, a deviated septum might be the cause of, or a contributing factor.
3: Chronic stuffy nose and/or sinus infections
That soreness and pressure you feel in and around your face as well as the nasal stuffiness and chronic sinus infections you experience might be the result of a deviated septum. When the wall between the nasal cavities is crooked, it can block drainage of the sinuses. That causes stuffiness as well as a build-up of bacteria and viruses that can cause chronic infection. If you have pain in your nose, teeth, jaw, cheekbones, nose, and forehead, or if you feel some type of discharge draining down your throat, you could have a sinus infection. If it is chronic, have your septum checked by an ear, nose, throat specialist.
When intake of air is interrupted in the nose it can lead to noisy breathing through the mouth, and that can cause snoring. You may also wake up with a dry mouth, a sign that you are breathing through your mouth while you sleep. As long as a deviated septum is disrupting the air flow into your nose, you may compensate by breathing through your mouth while sleeping. This can lead to other problems like sleep apnea, a condition in which your sleep is interrupted multiple times a night due to lack of oxygen to the lungs and the brain. That can adversely impact the function of your brain and can contribute to heart disease. If you snore, see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment for deviated septum
If an ear, nose, throat (ENT) specialist has diagnosed a deviated septum, it can be corrected through a surgical procedure called septoplasty. The procedure is performed through the nasal cavity where a small incision is made in the septum which is then reshaped until normal breathing patterns are restored. In some cases, some bone or cartilage may be partially removed. Our septoplasty procedures are minimally invasive and have been perfected with no nasal packing resulting in no expected swelling or bruising. Patients typically return to work the next day.