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Deviated Nasal Septum

Deviated Septum Treatment Causes and Symptoms
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Nose is a vital organ of our body. It ensures that the air we breathe reaches the lungs directly and enables the supply of oxygen for other bodily functions. To ensure a clear flow, there is a cartilage and bone that divides the nose into the left and right nostrils. This is called the nasal septum, and close to 80% people worldwide suffer from a deviated septum in their nose.

With this blog, renowned ENT Dr. Vijay Verma would help us understand what is a deviated septum, what are the treatments available for deviated nasal septum and give an overview about deviated septum surgery.

Deviated Nasal Septum: Definition

A deviated septum is the reason why some people have crooked, deformed or bigger noses. This means that the nasal septum, i.e. the cartilage and bone that separates the nasal cavity, is askew. Due to this, the nasal cavity is unevenly divided and one nostril is burdened with more air passage than the other, making it appear bigger and disproportionate.

While some are born with it, others suffer this condition post an injury to their noses. Severe deviation can lead to breathing problems, blocked nose, headaches and prolonged congestion. This is a very common occurrence and needs medical attention if it disrupts the quality of life for an individual. Surgery is often the best solution for such situations.

Deviated Septum: Symptoms

Deviated septum treatment starts with identifying the problem. But the symptoms only surface when the deviated septum starts disrupting normal nasal functions. Sometimes these symptoms are mistaken for allergy or common cold and ignored.

Common symptoms of a deviated septum are:

  • Distinctly visible change in the shape of their nose
  • Difficult/ laborious breathing leading to dizziness
  • Recurring infections or internal inflammation of mucous membranes of the nose
  • A biased nose block usually on the side of the smaller nostril
  • Frequent sinusitis resistant to normal medication
  • Frequent nosebleeds, crusting or excess dryness, usually in the bigger nostril 
  • Snoring, noisy breathing, whistling noises during breathing 
  • Sleep apnea due to restricted flow of oxygen

Significant deviation can be critical in infants, owing to smaller respiratory passages. Severity in complications can increase fatality levels. However, for minor deviations and mild or no symptoms, treatment is not necessary, and duly monitored medication can lessen the associated symptoms. 

Deviated Septum: Causes

  • In infants, this condition is congenital, i.e., exists by birth, often due to a connective tissue disease. The deformity develops at a fetal stage while the baby is in the womb or during child-birth. In some cases the severity of symptoms surface as the child grows up. In 2012 research showed that neonatal deviated septum affected 20% of newborns who had complicated deliveries. 
  • In children & adults, the primary cause of a deviated septum is a nasal injury that can occur at any age. A direct impact displaces the septum bone and cartilage to one side, leading to a deviated nasal septum. Swelling and irritations arising out of injury, can further restrict the nasal passage and aggravate the condition.

Infographic showing causes effects and prevention for deviated septum

Deviated Septum: Treatment & Recovery

Here is a step by step approach to deviated septum treatment:

Step 1: Contact a specialist: Once the symptoms surface the next step is to seek proper medical guidance. When you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, reach out to an ENT specialist for assessing the severity of the condition and suggest a course of treatment or management.

Step 2: Assessment & diagnosis: Each case is different and unique. Sometimes for minor symptoms over the counter medicines may be prescribed, to relieve congestion, facial pain or headache. For more severe cases the doctor will give initial medicinal relief and suggest surgery. To diagnose a deviated septum, first your doctor will examine your nostrils using a nasal speculum to check the septum’s placement and the size of the nostrils. Be open with your problems w.r.t sleep, snoring, sinus and difficulty in breathing.

Step 3: Patient profiling: The best approach to deviated septum treatment is a corrective surgical procedure called septoplasty. The specialist will do a proper patient profiling to assess your eligibility, based on your age, medical history, pre-existing conditions and alcohol/drug/tobacco usage.

Step 4: Septoplasty Surgery: This is a same day surgical procedure that will take just 2 hours. The procedure depends on your specialist’s recommendation and can even include a rhinoplasty or nose job to realign your nose.

Step 5: Recovery and rehab: Recovery for this out-patient treatment will be slow as is the case for all bone related surgeries. Due care for pain management and prevention of infections will be prioritized by your healthcare expert. In three week to six months, the septum will start re-aligning and healing. Towards the end of recovery the nasal passage will be healed and you will be able to breathe normally through your nose instead of your mouth. For a successful procedure, avoid bumping your nose and ensure you follow your surgeon’s advice to the letter.

Septoplasty Post Operative Care Checklist - Do's and don'ts

To summarize the above:
For most people, a deviated septum will not cause problems in their day to day life. But if you have severe symptoms, a corrective septoplasty may be the right course of action. Depending upon individual cases, a rhinoplasty might also be prescribed. This problem will not resolve on its own. Proper diagnosis and on-time treatment will help prevent the fatality of the condition. To know more about Deviated Septum Treatment, book your appointment with Dr. Vijay Verma today.


FAQ’s

Ques 1. What happens if I have a Deviated Septum?

You will develop breathing difficulty, headaches and frequent nosebleeds among other symptoms. Your nostrils will be unbalanced and deformed, leading to problems like subsisting sinusitis and internal infections which can be breeding grounds for more severe fatalities.

Ques 2. How common is a Deviated Septum?

It is very common and its severity depends on person to person. Approximately 80% of the global population suffers from this anomaly. The deviation can be a mild misalignment without any noticeable symptoms.

Ques 3. What happens if you don’t treat Deviated Septum? 

Most people don’t know they have a problem, until the symptoms become severe. Complications can rise if the condition is left untreated. One of the strongest indicators is difficulty in breathing. Once diagnosed by a specialist, explore treatment options available to your condition to minimize your long-term health risks. This condition will not disappear on its own, so don’t ignore it.

Que 4. What effect does Deviated Septum have on the body?

It will increase frequent sinus infections, chronic inflammation and irritation in the nasal cavity and can lead to a serious condition called sleep apnea. Here the body stops breathing in sleep restricting the body’s oxygen flow. This in turn makes you more susceptible to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attacks, diabetes, depression, ADHD and more.

Ques 5. Can Deviated Septum make you feel tired?

When there is a constant pressure and discomfort on a basic human activity of breathing, the body is bound to get tired. Also because the oxygen flow is restricted it will lead to increased build up of fatigue, impacting our daily performance in school and office.