The nasal septum is the wall of cartilage and bone that separates the two nostrils. The septum is usually straight and divides the nose into 2 equal nostrils. In most people, however, the septum is somewhat crooked or deviated, which is called a deviated nasal septum. A deviated septum can be present since birth or may occur due to an injury or accident.
The position of the deviated septum can only be corrected by the surgical procedure of septoplasty. Medications and other treatment options can only help with the symptoms (like congestion, sinusitis or breathing problems) but nothing except a septoplasty surgery can fix a deviated septum. Symptoms associated with a deviated septum, such as breathing problems, recurrent sinusitis and congestion will go away after the surgery.
A deviated septum is usually not severe enough to cause serious problems, but in some cases, the condition can interfere with normal breathing and cause congestion, sinus infections (sinusitis) and other issues. If the condition becomes severe enough, the symptoms can become very serious and the deviated septum may even affect the outward appearance of the nose.
Most common nasal septum deviation symptoms
A mild deviation in the nasal septum may not cause prominent symptoms but if the deviated septum is severe, it may block one side of an individual’s nose and reduce the airflow, causing an obstruction in breathing and resulting in recurrent sinusitis. If you or your child has a severe deviation in the nasal septum, it may cause signs and symptoms like-
Obstruction of one or both nostrils- Obstruction in one or both nostrils can make it difficult to breathe freely through one or even both nostrils. This may become more noticeable when the individual has a cold, sinus infection or allergies that can cause the nasal passages to swell and narrow down.
Nasal congestion and sinusitis- A deviated septum inside the nose can cause frequent sinus infections and post-nasal drip. Deviated septum causing sinusitis can interfere with the individual’s regular life and activities.
Disturbed sleep- A deviated nasal septum can negatively affect the individual’s quality of sleep and can cause a dry mouth due to chronic mouth breathing.
Nosebleeds- The surface of an individual’s nasal septum can become dry and increase the nosebleeds.
What is the treatment for deviated nasal septum?
As said earlier, a deviation in the septum can only be fixed with surgery. Various non-surgical treatments can help relieve the symptoms caused by a deviated septum. Such treatments can only provide temporary relief from the symptoms. At the outset, your ENT doctor may treat the deviated septum by helping you manage the associated symptoms. The ENT doctor may recommend the following treatments-
Antihistamines- Antihistamines are prescribed by ENT doctors to address the symptoms of allergies, including a runny or stuffy nose and can also successfully provide relief for non-allergic conditions, including those associated with a deviated septum. Ask your ENT doctor if you should use antihistamines for your symptoms of septum deviation. Remember that antihistamines can cause some drowsiness and if you are using these, take caution before performing complicated tasks, like driving, using heavy machinery, or tasks that require physical activity.
Nasal steroid sprays – If you are dealing with nasal swelling, nasal corticosteroids sprays can help with drainage and provide relief. Depending on the severity, it may take up to 3 weeks before you get relief. It is important to follow your ENT doctor’s instructions if you are using corticosteroids sprays. Nasal steroid sprays treat the swollen mucous membranes and can only provide temporary relief. Corticosteroids sprays cannot correct a deviated nasal septum.
Decongestants- Decongestants can reduce the swelling of the nasal tissues, which can keep the airways open. Your ENT specialist may prescribe decongestants in the form of a pill or as a spray. Nasal sprays should be used moderately and if they are used inappropriately, they can lead to dependency and cause the symptoms to get worse once the individual quits using them. Oral decongestants might work well as a stimulant and the individual may feel jitters, an increased heart rate, and blood pressure after using them. You should not use nasal sprays without getting approval from an ENT doctor.
Surgical repair by Septoplasty- ENT doctors may recommend a septoplasty if medications do not relieve the symptoms. Septoplasty is the surgery performed to fix a deviated nasal septum and is the only way to straighten a crooked septum.
What to do to correct a deviated nasal septum?
Septoplasty is designed to repair a deviated septum. During this procedure, the ENT surgeon repositions the crooked nasal septum and straightens it so that it will sit in the middle of the nose. Septoplasty surgery will not affect the appearance of the nose and only fix the septum deviation from the inside of the nose. If you are suffering from nasal obstruction, recurrent sinusitis, sleep obstruction, you get relief after undergoing a septoplasty.