There are a number of different reasons that are cause for people to have trouble breathing. A deviated septum is oftentimes the culprit.
A deviated septum is crooked cartilage inside the nose that can interfere with proper air flow. Some estimates1 indicate that 75 percent of people may have a deviated septum of some degree and don’t know it. Some are born with a deviated septum (genetics) while others get it from an injury or trauma.
Interesting fact: Some studies2 indicate that as many as 20 percent of newborns may be born with a deviated septum.
If you have trouble breathing, it helps to know the cause. Your ENT doc will know for sure but rest assured that treatments are readily available.
What is a deviated septum?
A wall of cartilage, called the septum, separates the two sides of the nasal cavity. It basically runs right down the center of the inside of your nose. Some people have a septum that is slightly off center but doesn’t cause any noticeable symptoms. However, when the septum is drastically off center it is called a deviated septum and can cause your naval passageways to be drastically unequal in size thus interrupting air flow on the “squeezed” side. Just take a look at the photo and imagine how difficult it would be to breathe through the left nostril, how congested you’d be, and just possible it would be to contract a sinus infection!
Symptoms and diagnosis of a deviated septum
Oftentimes, the symptoms of a deviated septum are mistaken for a cold or general congestion:
- Congestion and frequent sinus infections
- Noises during sleeping including a whistling sound and/or snoring
- Post nasal drip
- Pain in the nose and/or face, and headaches
If you experience chronic symptoms, an ear, nose, throat (ENT) specialist should be consulted. The physician will examine the inside of the nose using a tiny light to determine if the septum is crooked, and if so, to what degree. Imaging such as a CT scan may be recommended to give the physician a more detailed look at the interior structure of the nose.
Treatment for your deviated septum is readily available
If you are diagnosed with a deviated septum that is severe enough to cause ongoing symptoms that interfere with your breathing, surgery may be recommended to correct it. The outpatient surgery is called a septoplasty and is typically performed in the surgeon’s office, in an outpatient surgical center, or in the hospital. During the procedure, parts of the septum may be removed or parts of the septum may be removed, the shape corrected, and then reinserted into the nose. BergerHenry ENT has perfected a minimally-invasive technique that doesn’t require nasal packing and results in no expected swelling or bruising of the nose or face. Patients typically return to their normal routines the next day.