The Causes of a Deviated Septum
A deviated septum is a condition in which the nasal septum – the bone and cartilage that divide the nasal cavity of the nose in half – is significantly off center or broken, making breathing difficult or uncomfortable. Some people are born with a deviated septum while others may develop it after a nose injury or previous nose surgery.
A deviated septum occurs when the thin wall (nasal septum) between your nasal passages is displaced to one side. In many people, the nasal septum is displaced — or deviated — making one nasal passage smaller.
When a deviated septum is severe, it can block one side of your nose and reduce airflow, causing difficulty breathing. The reduced airflow through the nose may sometimes result in crusting or bleeding in certain individuals.
Treatment may include medication to reduce the swelling or nasal dilators to help open the nasal passages. In more severe conditions, surgery is necessary to correct a deviated septum.
Symptoms and Signs
The most common symptoms of a deviated septum include:
- Difficult breathing through nose because of an obstruction. This obstruction can make it difficult to breathe through one or both nostrils. This may be more noticeable when a cold or allergy is present.
- Pain in one side of your face. Usually occurs on the same side that the deviated septum leans towards.
- Noisy breathing or snoring while you sleep. This can occur in infants and young children with a deviated septum or with selling of the intranasal tissue.
- A preference for sleeping on one side due to breathing. Some people may prefer to sleep on a particular side in order to optimize breathing through the nose at night.
- The surface of your nasal septum may become dry, increasing your risk of nosebleeds.
- Sleep Apnea.A deviated septum may also cause sleep apnea, a condition in which a person stops breathing during sleep.
Other symptoms include recurring sinus infections, postnasal drip and headaches.
What Are the Causes of a Deviated Septum?
A deviated septum can be caused by:
- Fetal Development. In some cases, a deviated septum occurs during fetal development and is apparent at birth.
- Injury to the nose. A deviated septum can also be the result of an injury to the nose, where the nasal septum is moved out of position. In infants, such an injury may occur during childbirth. In children and adults, a wide range of accidents may lead to a nose injury and a deviated septum ranging from tripping on the stairs to colliding with another person during contact sports tocar accidents.
When Should I See a Doctor About a Deviated Septum?
You should see your doctor about a deviated septum if you have:
- Trouble with nasal breathing
- Sleep problems (particularly sleep apnea)
- Chronic sinus problems
Your doctor can diagnose a deviated septum during a physical examination. Usually a bright light and an instrument that can help visualize the nasal septum will be used to make the correct diagnosis. Some deviated septum disorders are deep in the nose and require further evaluation in the office with a small telescope or endoscope. Imaging may also be done with a CT scan to view the extent and other associated findings, but this is not common.
Schedule a Consultation
Treatment and surgical options can help reshape the nose by adjusting the bone and cartilage, and treating a deviated septum. Not only can it improve the aesthetics of the nose, it can alleviate breathing problems. Combined with procedures such as septoplasty, a deviated septum can be relieved for a healthier lifestyle.
If you have concerns about the causes of a deviated septum and how to treat it, make sure to consult an informed and experienced doctor for treatment options. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Kapoor today, and join our many satisfied patients.