Deviated Nasal Septum

A deviated septum occurs when crooked cartilage and bone block nasal passages interfering with breathing and sinus drainage.

Symptoms & Causes

The primary symptom of a deviated septum is nasal congestion, typically worse in one nostril than the other. Additional symptoms may include difficulty breathing, chronic sinus infections, nosebleeds, facial pain, headache, postnasal drip, noisy breathing or snoring while asleep, and sleep apnea.

Typically, a deviated nasal septum is either a congenital condition that may be the result of fetal development, or trauma to the nose that displaces the septum. This is most commonly the result of an accident such as a sports injury or automobile accident. Sometimes, normal aging can cause the cartilage in the nasal tip to deteriorate, leading to a deviated septum.

Treatment Options

The first stage in treating a deviated nasal septum involves managing the symptoms. Medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal steroid sprays can reduce congestion and inflammation to help prevent a runny nose and postnasal drip. Medications are a temporary solution, however, and repeated use of decongestants can cause rebound symptoms.

For this reason, surgery is the preferred treatment method for a deviated septum. It offers a permanent solution designed to put a stop to your symptoms. Known as septoplasty, this procedure surgically repositions your septum to the center of your nose. In some cases, surgery to reshape the nose (rhinoplasty) is performed concurrently. This involves readjusting the size and shape of the bone and cartilage in your nose.

There are a few steps you can take to prevent injuries to your nose. Wear a helmet or other type of face protection when playing a contact sport, and always wear a seat belt when riding in a motor vehicle.