Do you experience chronic stuffiness, snoring or recurrent sinus infections? It’s possible these issues might be attributed to a deviated septum. But don’t despair – surgery is not the only way to find relief. A deviated septum implies that the cartilage dividing the two sides of the nose has become misaligned, and this can lead to an array of difficulties including restricted breathing, snoring and sinus infections.
In this blog, we will explore both medical and surgical options for treating a deviated septum. We will discuss the available non-surgical treatments to improve symptoms and when surgery may be required.
What is a Deviated Septum?
A deviated septum is a structural defect in the partition between the nostrils. This condition can be inherited at birth or caused by an injury to the nose. It can obstruct the nasal passages and consequently, make breathing through it difficult. In addition, it may lead to sinus infections and other issues.
Various treatments options exist for a deviated septum. Surgery is not always the only option; nasal dilators or other devices may be used to improve airflow through the nose.
Symptoms of Deviated Septum
It is estimated that around 80% of people have a deviated septum, in which the thin bone and cartilage that divides the nostrils is misaligned to one side. Generally, this does not present an issue and no treatment is required. In certain cases, however, there are some symptoms associated with a deviated septum, for instance:
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- Recurrent nosebleeds
- Trouble sleeping
- Headaches or facial pain
If you’re exhibiting any of these signs, it may be worthwhile to consult an ENT and debate if you have a deviated septum and if surgery is required to rectify it.
What Causes a Deviated Septum?
A deviated septum occurs when the nasal septum –cartilage and bone that divides the nose into two cavities- is out of place or crooked. Symptoms of this condition can range from difficulty breathing to snoring and even sinus infections.
Deviated septums are commonly caused by traumatic injury to the nose, like a fracture or break. They can also occur due to other factors, including genetic defects inherited from parents or growth abnormalities.
- Some people come into the world with a deviated septum, which affects the structure of the nose.
- Infections, such as bacterial sinusitis, may cause worsening of the septum, leading to its deviation. This is due to the inflammation and swelling of the tissue.
- Allergies can trigger inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages, resulting in pressure on the septum, causing it to become deviated.
- As people age, their cartilage and bone in the nose can alter, possibly resulting in a deviated septum.
In many instances, a deviated septum does not produce any adverse effects. On the other hand, if it is decidedly crooked, it can be the source of several issues such as:
- A deviated septum can impede airflow through one or both nostrils, causing difficulty with breathing.
- A deviated septum can lead to intensified snoring.
- Having a deviated septum may make it challenging for the sinuses to eliminate mucus, subsequently increasing the odds of sinus infections.
- Having a deviated septum can put pressure on the sinuses and their surrounding tissues, which in turn may lead to headaches.
- A deviated septum can lead to pressure on the eustachian tubes, which bridge the middle ear and the back of the nose, resulting in ear discomfort.
- Having a deviated septum can increase the likelihood of nosebleeds occurring.
If you are having issues related to deviated septum, it is crucial to get in touch with a doctor. He will analyze your nose and might ask for imaging tests such as CT scan or MRI to check the level of septal deviation.
Treatments for a Deviated Septum
A deviated septum is when the cartilage that divides the two sides of the nose is not straight. This can lead to various issues, such as impaired respiratory functions, snoring, and sinus infections.
There are a variety of approaches to treating a deviated septum that depend on the extent of your signs and your medical history. The ideal treatment for you will be decided by how serious your symptoms are and the condition of your general health.
- Non-surgical treatments
Non-surgical options may be suitable for providing relief from symptoms related to a deviated septum. These treatments can include:
- Nasal sprays can be beneficial in decreasing inflammation and enlargement of the nasal cavity. This, in turn, assists in expanding airways and facilitating respiration.
- Decongestants are effective for relieving sinus congestion by reducing swelling in the nasal blood vessels, opening up the airways, and improving breathing.
- If allergies are a factor, medication can be used to decrease inflammation and facilitate respiration.
- Physical therapy can help to improve the alignment of the septum in certain circumstances, by means of exercises or gentle pressure on the nostrils.
Surgery might be essential in severe cases of deviated septum. Most instances are resolved through a septoplasty, a procedure which involves making an incision within the nose and rearranging or removing any bone or cartilage responsible for the deviation.
Septoplasty is typically done using general anesthesia and usually takes 1-2 hours. Most people are able to leave the hospital on the same day. Recovering from a septoplasty usually takes 1-2 weeks. During this period, you may be uncomfortable due to pain, swelling, and bruising. Moreover, nasal breathing could be challenging.
Diagnosing a Deviated Septum
A deviated septum is a common condition in which the nasal septum, the bone and cartilage that separates the two sides of the nose, has been displaced. This can lead to issues like impaired breathing, recurrent sinus infections, and a sensation of being stuffed up.
In order to diagnose a deviated septum, your doctor will assess your nose and inquire about your symptoms during a physical examination. Additionally, they may opt to utilize a nasoscope, which is a thin, illuminated tube enabling them to observe the insides of your nostrils more closely. If your physician suspects you might have this issue, they may call for a CT scan or MRI for an enhanced picture.
The severity of the condition typically dictates the form of treatment for a deviated septum. Home remedies like saline nasal sprays and humidifiers could be helpful in less serious cases, although more severe cases might necessitate surgery by your doctor to fix the issue.
How to Fix a Deviated Septum Without Surgery
There are some solutions to a deviated septum which can be tackled without medical intervention. You might want to consider trying:
- Nasal decongestants can ease the swelled-up feeling in your nose and make it easier to breathe.
- Nasal steroids may be able to help reduce nasal inflammation and make breathing easier.
- Antihistamines can be effective in alleviating any of the symptoms related to a deviated septum caused by allergies.
- It is advisable to maintain distance from substances that might cause your deviated septum, such as dust and smoke, as far as possible.
- Nasal dilators can aid in the widening of your nasal passages, ultimately making it easier for you to inhale and exhale.
Alternatives to Surgery
There are a number of alternatives to surgery for correcting a deviated septum. These include:
Septoplasty involves making an incision in the septum and then manipulating it into a new position. This procedure can be done through either an open or closed approach.
- Rhinoplasty is a cosmetic procedure used to shape the nose and can also be utilized to correct deviated septums. Incisions are made in order to reshape tissues.
- A Nasal Splint is inserted into the nose to maintain the placement of the septum and reduce chances of misalignment.
- Nasal steroids are effective for reducing inflammation and aiding the healing of the septum once it has been repositioned.
To wrap up, treating a deviated septum doesn’t always mean surgery. To relieve your symptoms, you may want to try one of the many non-surgical treatments and devices available. Additionally, home remedies like being adequately hydrated, not smoking, steering clear of airborne irritants, steam treatments and anti-snoring devices can assist in alleviating the condition’s associated discomfort. Above all else, it is imperative to consult a medical practitioner for a correct diagnosis and individualized treatment plan.
1. What is a deviated septum?
A deviated septum is a disorder in which the nose’s interior partition, composed of bone and cartilage, is shifted or bent. It can lead to breathing difficulties and even other issues.
2. What are the symptoms of a deviated septum?
Breathing difficulties are the hallmark of a deviated septum, but other indications such as sinus infections, headaches, sleep apnea, and snoring may also be present.
3. What causes a deviated septum?
A deviated septum can be caused by a range of factors, including one’s genetics at birth, physical trauma, aging process, or pre-existing medical operations.
4. How is a deviated septum diagnosed?
During a physical exam, an ENT specialist can recognize a deviated septum. To validate the diagnosis, they may require an x-ray or CT scan.
5. How is a deviated septum treated?
In cases where symptoms are absent, no treatment is necessary. However, when symptoms do present themselves, possible treatments may include medication, immunotherapy (such as allergy shots), and in certain cases, surgery.