September 25, 2018

Do You Need Septoplasty for a Deviated Septum?

Do you find it difficult to breathe through your nose?

If you’ve ruled out allergies or a cold and still have trouble breathing through your nose, the cause could be a deviated septum. This condition affects up to 80% of the population to varying degrees, but serious cases could impact your health and quality of life.

What is a deviated septum?

The nasal septum is a firm but flexible wall, covered by skin, that divides the left and right sides of the nose. In a perfect world, the septum would be perfectly centered between both sides of the nose. However, most septums tend to be slightly off-center, and most individuals don’t even notice.

In more severe cases, this is referred to as a deviated septum. With a deviated septum, one side of the nose is significantly wider than the other, which can affect air flow in the nose. Sometimes, the narrower side may become blocked. Although a deviated septum can be present from birth, it may also be caused by injury to the nose, such as a car accident or a sports injury.

Check out this video for an overview:

What are some symptoms of a deviated septum?

The severity of the deviated septum will affect the severity of the symptoms. Some common symptoms of a deviated septum include:

  • Obstructed nostril; this can make it difficult to breathe, especially with allergies or a sinus infection
  • Nosebleeds; usually caused by excessive dryness in the septum
  • Facial pain and chronic sinus pressure
  • Deliberately sleeping on a particular side; a deviated septum may make breathing easier on one side
  • Noisy breathing while sleeping; this is particularly common in babies and children
  • Snoring
  • Knowing your “nasal cycle”; the nose naturally alternates breathing between nostrils, but it is uncommon for someone to be fully aware of this nasal cycle on a daily basis
  • Frequent dry mouth; if you mainly breathe through your mouth instead of your nose, this can cause chronic dry mouth

Should you ask your doctor about a deviated septum?

Most people have an uneven septum that does not cause problems. If you experience the above symptoms to a point that affects your quality of life, you should discuss the issue with your doctor.

Other reasons to talk to your doctor about a deviated septum include:

  • Blocked nostril that does not respond to treatment
  • Sleep difficulties, including waking up suddenly in the middle of the night
  • Frequent sinus infections

If you’re concerned about a possible deviated septum, your doctor will consider your symptoms and examine your nose and sinuses. He or she may also refer you to an otolaryngologist, commonly known as an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist.

How do you treat a deviated septum?

Treatment for a deviated septum depends on the severity of your condition. In many cases, your doctor may have you start by managing your symptoms.

This may include the use of decongestants to reduce swelling in the sinuses and help keep your nasal airways open. If you have frequent allergy symptoms, antihistamines also can help. Nasal corticosteroid sprays may reduce inflammation in your nasal passage and help open the airways. Some treatments can take a few weeks to be fully effective, so make sure to follow your doctor’s prescriptions and instructions.

Sometimes, additional medication may not be necessary. For example, snoring may be resolved by changing or raising the position of the bed or mattress. It is important to discuss your symptoms and concerns thoroughly with your doctor.

Is septoplasty right for you?

If your deviated septum is severe, or if symptom management doesn’t work, you may be a good candidate for septoplasty. This is a form of surgery that corrects a deviated septum. During this procedure, the surgeon repositions your nasal septum so that it is straight and positioned at the center of your nose. Our surgeons have developed a technique to repair septal deviations in the office, under sedation, that lets you get back to work the next day!

In some cases, your surgeon may have to cut or remove parts of the septum before they are placed in the proper position. The surgeon may also perform rhinoplasty at this time, which reshapes the bone and cartilage in your nose.

Septal problems are often associated with sinus problems and you may be a candidate for balloon sinuplasty, also known as balloon sinus dilation. This advanced, in-office, minimally invasive option can help address sinus problems and recurrent infections. With this procedure, the doctor uses a tiny balloon to dilate and remodel the opening of the sinus cavity, which can improve sinus ventilation in just minutes. This is normally done at the same time as septoplasty.

After septoplasty, your nasal breathing should be dramatically better and much more symmetric. If your symptoms are also related to allergies, however, surgery will not entirely cure them.

Need relief from a deviated septum?

Your sinuses don’t have to impact your quality of life. Book a consult today to find out more about septal deviations and if you are a candidate for septoplasty.

About The Author:

Chris Thompson, MD