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What to Do About a Deviated Septum

What to Do About a Deviated Septum

While the term “deviated septum” might conjure up images of a serious physical condition for those encountering it for the first time, the fact is, it’s a typically minor deformity that most of us have to a certain extent — over 80% of people have some degree of deviated nasal septum.

The nasal septum is a piece of cartilage inside your nose that divides the nostrils. Ideally, the septum would evenly divide the interior of the nose, but few people have a symmetrical cross section. 

Septum deviation doesn’t always create problems, but when it does, you might have one or more of a wide range of symptoms related to your septum shape. You might learn that a deviated septum is the cause of a chronic breathing problem. 

Evaluating the shape of your septum is part of an examination with Dr. Scott Bateman, the founder and otolaryngologist at Sheridan Ear, Nose & Throat. When you suffer from conditions such as chronic congestion, facial pain, noisy breathing, nosebleeds, or nostril obstructions, it could trace back to your septum. 

How does septum deviation occur?

You might be born with an off-center septum. It can be a genetic condition, or it may result from an injury sustained during delivery. Subsequently, any injury to the nose, such as in a car accident or when playing sports, can cause septum deviation. As you get older, aging tissue could make a minor level of deviation more pronounced.

The problems that arise from a deviated septum

Most people with septum deviation experience no problems. The amount of deviation is small, or their nasal passages are large enough that the position of the septum doesn’t matter. 

Those who do have problems may suffer more during allergy season or when they have an upper respiratory infection. Septum placement can affect mucus drainage, which is a key part of recovery from congestion. 

When sinuses remain clogged, conditions develop that support bacterial growth, so you could move from your allergic response or viral condition into a harder-to-break bacterial infection. Conditions like chronic sinusitis could become a problem. 

Even when infections don’t persist, you may encounter breathing problems from nostrils that remain blocked. Snoring might be aggravated by septum issues, and a deviated septum might contribute to obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous sleep disorder. 

What to do about a deviated septum

When your problems related to the septum are minor or seasonal, treating symptoms of congestion with OTC medications may help you through each incident. However, this approach won’t work for chronic conditions. Overuse of nasal decongestants can cause a problem called rebound congestion. 

When the shape of a septum causes significant breathing challenges, a surgical procedure called a septoplasty may become necessary. Usually performed as an outpatient procedure, septoplasty relocates and reshapes the septum, adding or removing bone and cartilage tissue, as needed, to balance nostril size. 

A deviated septum could combine with other structural issues in your nasal passages and sinuses. Sometimes, eliminating these other conditions reduces the impact of septum position. 

You can work with Dr. Bateman to determine the best treatment or combination of treatments to improve your overall breathing. Schedule your consultation with Sheridan Ear, Nose & Throat by phone or online today. 

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