Most people have some sort of imbalance in the size of their breathing passages. The nasal cavity is divided in half by a thin wall of cartilage – called a septum – that separates the two nostrils.
About 80% of Americans have some degree of deviation in the septum.
What is a deviated septum?
A deviated septum is characterized by a crooked or off-center wall of cartilage between the nostrils, making one nasal passage smaller than the other.
This condition can range in severity, but most patients with a deviated septum will notice a size difference in their ability to breath through the two sides of their nose.
What causes a deviated septum?
Some people’s septum deviates as they grow. The septum becomes more and more deviated until it causes symptoms.
Other people may develop a deviation after injury or trauma to the nose. The injury may have happened a long time ago and could have been as simple as running into another child on the playground.
Over time, a septum that’s already deviated may become worse due to nasal structures changing as you age.
What are the symptoms of a deviated septum?
A deviated septum can cause any of the following symptoms:
- Persistent nasal obstruction
- Difficulty breathing through the nose because one or both nostrils are blocked (May be more noticeable when you have a cold or allergies)
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Facial pain
- Post-nasal drip
- Noisy breathing during sleep
What are the treatment options for a deviated septum?
Initial treatment for this condition may be directed at managing the symptoms that affect the tissues lining the nose.
Your doctor may prescribe the following:
- Decongestants: Available as a pill or as a nasal spray, decongestants help reduce the swelling of nasal tissues. This helps keep airways on both sides of your nose open.
- Antihistamines: These medications help prevent allergy symptoms such as obstruction and runny nose. They can also sometimes help with symptoms that occur with a cold.
- Nasal steroid sprays: Prescription nasal corticosteroid sprays can reduce inflammation in your nasal passages and help with obstruction and drainage. These sprays usually take from one to three weeks to reach their full effect.
Medications offer only temporary relief that can sometimes yield less-than-ideal results. And in some cases, they cause unwanted side effects. Decongestant nasal sprays, for example, can cause a rebound effect when used frequently, and your symptoms can actually become worse. Decongestants can cause your blood pressure to rise, and antihistamines can cause drowsiness or dryness.
Medications don’t correct a septum that’s deviated, but instead only address the symptoms that it causes. If you’re still experiencing symptoms despite using medication, you may want to consider surgery (septoplasty) to correct your septum.
A septoplasty is a surgical procedure that’s performed on a patient who has a deviated septum. It straightens or changes the shape of the septum, improving symptoms that result from nasal obstruction.
Most patients experience significantly improved nasal airflow within a few weeks after a septoplasty. They usually have minimal pain during their recovery period and can return to non-strenuous activities the day after surgery and full activities within a week.
Where can I find treatment for my deviated septum in Atlanta?
If you’re suffering from a deviated septum and the troublesome symptoms it can cause, contact the Sinus Center of Atlanta today to take the first step toward finding the correct treatment in your particular case.
Our board-certified ENT (ear, nose, and throat) physicians will conduct a thorough evaluation to determine the best treatment option for your needs.
Schedule an appointment today to find out more about your treatment options.