Anatomy of the Septum: What is a Deviated Septum?
The nasal septum is the cartilage and bone that separates the nasal cavity into two halves. Ideally, the septum should be positioned in the center, creating equal-sized nasal passages on both sides. However, a deviated septum occurs when the septum is shifted to one side, making one nasal passage smaller than the other.
A deviated septum can be present at birth or can develop later in life due to injury or trauma to the nose. It can also occur as a result of a gradual change in the shape of the nasal septum due to aging.
While a deviated septum may not cause any symptoms in some people, it can cause problems in others. Some common symptoms of a deviated septum include nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, frequent sinus infections, nosebleeds, and loud breathing during sleep. In some cases, a deviated septum can also lead to snoring and sleep apnea.
If you suspect that you have a deviated septum, it’s important to see a doctor or an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT) for an accurate diagnosis. They may perform a physical exam and order imaging tests, such as a CT scan or an MRI, to confirm the presence and extent of the deviation.
Overall, a deviated septum is a common condition that affects many people. While it may not always require treatment, it’s important to understand the anatomy of the septum and the potential symptoms associated with a deviated septum to seek medical help when necessary.
Signs and Symptoms of a Deviated Septum: When to Seek Medical Help?
A deviated septum can cause a range of symptoms that vary from person to person. Some people may not experience any symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms that affect their daily life. Here are some common signs and symptoms of a deviated septum:
Nasal congestion: One of the most common symptoms of a deviated septum is nasal congestion or a stuffy nose. This occurs because one nasal passage is smaller than the other, making it harder for air to pass through.
Difficulty breathing: In addition to nasal congestion, a deviated septum can also cause difficulty breathing, especially when sleeping or exercising.
Frequent sinus infections: A deviated septum can make it harder for mucus to drain properly, increasing the risk of sinus infections.
Nosebleeds: People with a deviated septum may experience frequent nosebleeds, especially if the septum is dry and irritated.
Snoring and sleep apnea: In some cases, a deviated septum can cause snoring and sleep apnea, a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor or an ENT specialist for an accurate diagnosis. They may recommend treatment options such as medications, nasal sprays, or surgery to correct the deviation and alleviate the symptoms. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the deviated septum and improve breathing.
Causes of Deviated Septum: Is It Preventable?
A deviated septum can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, injury, and aging. Here are some common causes of deviated septum:
Congenital deformity: Some people are born with a deviated septum, which means the condition is present at birth.
Injury: A deviated septum can also be caused by trauma or injury to the nose, such as a broken nose.
Aging: As we age, the cartilage in the septum can gradually change shape, leading to a deviated septum.
Previous nasal surgery: Previous nasal surgeries can also cause a deviated septum.
While it may not always be possible to prevent a deviated septum, there are some things you can do to reduce the risk of injury or trauma to the nose, such as wearing a seatbelt while driving, wearing protective gear while playing sports, and avoiding physical altercations. Additionally, practicing good nasal hygiene, such as keeping the nasal passages moist with saline sprays, can help reduce the risk of developing a deviated septum.
If you have a deviated septum, it’s important to seek medical attention if you experience symptoms that affect your quality of life. Your doctor or ENT specialist can recommend treatment options to help alleviate the symptoms and improve breathing.
Diagnosing a Deviated Septum: How is it Done?
If you suspect that you have a deviated septum, it’s important to see a doctor or an ENT specialist for an accurate diagnosis. Here are some methods that your doctor may use to diagnose a deviated septum:
Physical exam: Your doctor may perform a physical exam of your nose, checking for any visible signs of deviation, such as crookedness or asymmetry.
Nasal endoscopy: Your doctor may use a small, flexible tube with a camera on the end to examine the inside of your nose and identify any structural abnormalities.
Imaging tests: Your doctor may order imaging tests, such as a CT scan or an MRI, to get a detailed view of your nasal passages and identify any deviations.
Allergy testing: If your doctor suspects that allergies may be contributing to your symptoms, they may recommend allergy testing to identify any allergens that may be causing inflammation in your nasal passages.
Overall, diagnosing a deviated septum is a straightforward process that can be done in a doctor’s office. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor can recommend treatment options to help alleviate the symptoms and improve breathing.
Treatment Options for Deviated Septum: Surgical and Non-Surgical Approaches
There are several treatment options available for a deviated septum, depending on the severity of the deviation and the symptoms that you’re experiencing. Here are some common treatment options for a deviated septum:
Nasal decongestants: Over-the-counter nasal decongestants can help relieve nasal congestion and improve breathing.
Nasal steroid sprays: Prescription nasal steroid sprays can reduce inflammation in the nasal passages and help alleviate symptoms such as congestion and difficulty breathing.
Antihistamines: If allergies are contributing to your symptoms, your doctor may recommend antihistamines to reduce allergic reactions and inflammation in the nasal passages.
Surgery: In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the deviated septum and improve breathing. Septoplasty is a surgical procedure that involves reshaping the cartilage and bone in the septum to create a more symmetrical nasal passage.
Turbinate reduction: In some cases, a turbinate reduction procedure may also be performed to reduce the size of the turbinates, which can help improve airflow through the nasal passages.
It’s important to note that not all cases of a deviated septum require surgery. Your doctor will recommend the best treatment option based on the severity of your symptoms and the extent of the deviation. Additionally, practicing good nasal hygiene, such as keeping the nasal passages moist with saline sprays, can also help alleviate symptoms and improve breathing.