The nasal septum is the wall between the left and right sides of the nose. This is made of both bone and cartilage and should divide the nasal cavity in half. It is estimated that about 80% of people, unknowingly, have some misalignment of their nasal septum. If the septum is significantly off-centered, this will make breathing through your nose much more difficult. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed below, please call San Diego Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists to schedule an appointment.
In people who have a deviated septum, one side of the nose is wider and the other side is narrower than it should be. This can alter the airflow pattern within the nasal cavity and sometimes blocks the narrowed side. In some cases, the nasal cavity is so compressed, the sinus openings can become blocked, which in turn can lead to a sinus infection (sinusitis). The change in airflow within the nasal cavity can also cause the skin of the nasal septum to become dry and cracked, causing frequent nosebleeds.
Symptoms of a deviated septum can include:
- Blockage of one or both nostrils
- Nasal congestion, sometimes on one side
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Frequent sinus infections
- Facial pain, headaches, postnasal drip
- Noisy breathing during sleep, snoring
After discussing your symptoms, an examination of the general appearance of your nose will occur, and then a small camera called a nasal endoscope will be placed inside your nose to see to what degree your septum deviates.
If you also have an allergic component, medical therapy can be started which would include nasal rinses, nasal corticosteroids, decongestants, and antihistamines. If there is no change in your symptoms it may be recommended you undergo a surgical procedure called a Septoplasty. Septoplasty is a surgical procedure performed entirely through the nose. During the surgery, the surgeon makes a small incision in the septum and then removes the excess bone and/or cartilage required to even out the breathing space of the nostrils. During the surgery, internal splints or soft packing material may be put in the nose to stabilize the septum as it heals. Depending on your symptoms a septoplasty may also be combined with sinus surgery. Surgery to repair a deviated septum is usually performed in an outpatient setting under general anesthesia and you will be able to go home after the surgery. There should be little to no swelling or bruising after surgery.