Signs of a Deviated Septum

ENT Issues,Hearing Loss Articles | Corpus Christi ENT Sinus & Allergy

Woman holding nose with a deviated septum suffering a headache and nasal pain.

In order to keep roads in good condition, construction is necessary. But things are also slowed down by construction. We’ve all been stuck in a traffic jam caused by construction. The whole system slows down when thousands of cars slam on their breaks from even a small lane change.

Now, go with this for just a second on this one… your nostrils are kind of like a highway. Air goes in and out, mucus moves in and out, and both of these functions are important to keep you healthy. A piece of tissue, called the septum, separates the right nostril (lane, if you will) and the left nostril.

But when your septum is deviated, when it’s less than straight, roadblocks in your nose can happen. And, well, mucus can become similar to a traffic backup. The point is that when things slow down, issues begin to occur, and your nose won’t work as it should.

A deviated septum, what is it?

Your left nasal passage and your right nasal passage are separated by a little strip of tissue called the septum. Usually, this piece of tissue should be straight. But this tissue can sometimes be pushed off to one side. Hence the name, “deviated septum”. So, you’re thinking: How do I get a deviated septum? Some individuals are born with a deviated septum and others have a traumatic incident that causes it.

Issues, from trouble breathing, sleeping, or lengthy sinus infections can be caused by a deviated septum. So you should contact us or your provider about your options if you think you may be dealing with a deviated septum.

If I had a deviated septum, how could I tell?

In some cases, a deviated septum can be somewhat free of symptoms. But some situations don’t follow this course. In many circumstances, in fact, a deviated septum will present with definite symptoms. Some of the most prevalent signs of a deviated septum include the following:

  • Headaches: The normal drainage and flow of air can be disrupted by a deviated septum. This can lead to headaches (especially headaches located in the front of your head).
  • Nasal congestion: Breathing or smelling could become really difficult if you have blockage in one or both of your nostrils. Usually, this congestion will be more severe on one side than on the other, but it does depend on the nature of your deviated septum. If you find your nostrils are plugged up often, it might be an indication of a deviated septum.
  • Facial Pain: Facial pain can also be an issue. When there is an abnormal amount of pressure in your sinuses and nasal cavity this can be the result.
  • Excess Snoring: A deviated septum can negatively impact your sleep cycle. This means increased snoring for some individuals. For other people, it might end up causing sleep apnea or other sleep disturbances.
  • Sinus infections: Just because you’ve had a sinus infection doesn’t mean that you have a deviated septum. But your nasal passages won’t always drain fully with a deviated septum. Repeated sinus infections can be the result. So, if every time you get a cold, it turns into a sinus infection, a deviated septum could be at the root of your problem.
  • Frequent nosebleeds: When you have a deviated septum, moisture can’t always get everywhere it needs to be (it’s that traffic jam getting in the way). Your nasal cavities may, consequently, dry out. This can result in frequent nosebleeds.
  • Noisy breathing: In some cases, your breathing itself can start to be noisy, particularly during heavy physical activity or while you’re sleeping.
  • Postnasal Drip: There’s an internal connection between your ear, nose, and throat. So when your nose is plugged up, mucus will drip back through your throat. This is known as postnasal drip. You might have a deviated septum if this is happening frequently.
  • Reduced sense of smell: Like all organs, the instrument of your nose is fragile. When airflow is decreased because of injury or disturbance of your sense of smell can be compromised.

So… what problems will a deviated septum bring about in you personally? It depends, you might experience all of these problems. Or you may only encounter a few. A correct diagnosis can only come from your provider.

Diagnosing a deviated septum

Needless to say, you’ll want to have it assessed once you begin noticing symptoms. So, when you come in for an appointment, what should you expect? A discussion about your medical history is the general starting point. We will probably ask about when your symptoms began, whether you’ve been snoring, and if you might have chronic sinus infections, that kind of thing. We’ll also very likely want to discuss past nasal traumas or surgeries because each of those can increase the risk that you’re dealing with a deviated septum.

We will also perform a physical exam. This normally involves looking up your nose (but with specialty equipment). We will attempt to determine the condition of your septum by gently spreading your nostrils to take a better look. We will be able to see if anything is shaped weird or if there is a blockage.

Here are several diagnostics we might employ as well:

  • Imaging studies: This may include an MRI or a CT scan.
  • Allergy testing: Allergy tests are normally done since allergies can contribute to nasal inflammation.
  • Nasal endoscopy: So we can get a better look inside your nose, we will insert this thin, flexible tube with a little camera on the end.

We can usually confirm or rule out a deviated septum after these tests have been completed.

How do you fix a deviated septum?

Clearly, treatment will be next after you discover you have a deviated septum. Here are a few approaches we might take to treat your deviated septum:

Non Surgical Approaches

  • Allergy management: It makes sense to control your allergies as much as possible, especially if they are causing a plugged nose.
  • Nasal strips: During some physical activities, or while sleeping, these can be helpful. They might be helpful in cases that are on the borderline.
  • Medication: Nasal steroids or nasal decongestants are in this category. But typically, the root cause isn’t dealt with just the symptoms.

Surgical approaches

  • Turbinate reduction: There are little structures on the side of the nose known as turbinates. In some cases, they can grow enlarged, exacerbating any nasal congestion you might be feeling. Sometimes, in order to increase air and mucus flow, septoplasty is combined with turbinate reduction surgery.
  • 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 surgery is performed by an ENT. This is frequently the most prevalent and effective treatment for a deviated septum.
  • Rhinoplasty: This is also a surgical procedure, except this one is designed to change the shape of the nose more generally. When used to treat a deviated septum, rhinoplasty is often combined with septoplasty.

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If you think you may have a deviated septum call us today to schedule an assessment.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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