A nasal septum would be considered deviated when it is either out of position or is misshapen.
The nasal septum is the structure inside of the nose that is made up of both bone and cartilage, and separates the two nasal cavities. The outermost part of the nasal septum also serves a structural and supportive function for the nose.
While slight deviations may go unnoticed, they can also cause problems.
What Causes a Deviated Septum?
There a couple of different known causes for a deviated septum. The condition may be congenital, meaning that the patient was born with the septum out of line due to malformation during fetal development. It is likely that these cases will be caught early on, as the nasal cavities of newborns are already small, allowing symptoms to be more obvious. Additionally, newborns undergo several health screenings and appointments providing more of any opportunity for healthcare providers to diagnose the issue.
The other common way in which people get a deviated septum is from a traumatic event. This can include any type of nose injury from a fall or hit, as long as it is significant enough to move the nasal septum out of place.
What Are The Symptoms Of Deviated Septum?
Patients who have a deviated septum are more likely to experience sinusitis because the misplaced structure can cause a blockage and mucous from properly draining. Symptoms of sinusitis include congestion, facial pain, headaches, nasal drainage, sore throat, and fever. Deviated septums can actually switch from blocking one nasal passage to blocking the other one and it may even do so with regularity; this is referred to as the nasal cycle. Patients often become aware of this nasal cycle because they can tell which side it is more difficult to breath through. Another symptom of deviated septum is difficulty sleeping. This occurs either when the blockage causes the patient to snore or when the blockage keeps them from breathing when they lay on one side or the other. For this reason, many patients develop a preferred sleeping side that will likely coincide with their nasal cycle, if they have one.
What Are The Treatment Options?
Sinusitis is a very common ailment that can usually be treated easily with antibiotics or over the counter medications, such as decongestants and anti-inflammatory pills. While these medications may provide some relief from certain symptoms of a deviated septum, they won’t address the physiological cause of the symptoms. It is highly probable that the deviated septum will need to be corrected with a septoplasty. This surgery is very common and not high risk. However, there are some risks associated with the procedure and the recovery time lasts from a few days to a week for the drainage to completely cease.