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5 Things You Should Know About a Deviated Septum

The nasal septum is a thin structure that separates the right and left airways in your nose. Nearly 80% of people have a somewhat deviated nasal septum. While it doesn’t typically cause any physical discomfort, it can lead to breathing problems in some people. If your nasal septum isn’t completely straight and causes problems, a surgical procedure called septoplasty can be performed to fix it. This procedure is typically performed together with rhinoplasty, a surgery that changes the shape of your nose.

Keep on reading to learn the causes of a deviated septum, its symptoms, and ways it can be treated.  

1. What are the symptoms?
The majority of people with a somewhat deviated septum typically don’t experience any symptoms. However, if a severe deviation is present, it can lead to extreme discomfort. Difficulty breathing is the most common symptom. It occurs due to one or both airways being blocked or obstructed. Nasal septum deviation can also result in nosebleeds by causing your nasal cavity to dry out more easily. In rare cases, the nasal deviation can lead to pain on one or both sides of your face. 

The displacement of the wall between the nasal airways can also lead to sleeping difficulty. It may cause you to sleep on one side rather than the other by making it difficult to breathe through the nose when you rest on a particular side. Septum deviation can also make you snore loudly and can put you at increased risk of sleep apnea, a condition in which your breathing stops or gets very shallow during sleep. 

2. What are the causes?
Sometimes septum deviation occurs during fetal development and is present at birth. Other cases of deviated septum usually result from an injury. Most often getting hit in the nose causes the septum to move out of position. Some individuals can develop septum deviation or have the misalignment get more significant as they age. At an early age, a displaced wall between the nostrils may not cause any issues. However, if displacement becomes more pronounced, it can hamper your breathing or cause other nasal problems.  

3. Are there significant risks?
Having a deviated septum can significantly decrease your quality of life. If the problem affects your sleep, it can make you feel exhausted and irritated. It can also make you more prone to get sick or injure yourself. A deviated septum can cause you to breathe through your mouth, which increases your odds of developing a dry mouth. A dry mouth can result in the onset of oral infections and tooth decay

4. What are the treatment options?
Surgery is the only effective way to fix a deviated septum. Sometimes a doctor can prescribe certain drugs to treat symptoms linked to deviation. For instance, if your nose is severely congested due to blocked airways, nasal steroid sprays or decongestants may be a great option to reduce nasal inflammation. However, these medications don’t provide any long-lasting results and have other disadvantages, including ongoing costs.

5. What is septoplasty?
Septoplasty is a surgery aimed to reposition a displaced wall in your nose. Your plastic surgeon will ensure that your septum is straightened and properly positioned so neither nostril is obstructed or blocked. This surgery is usually performed together with rhinoplasty. As septoplasty doesn’t change the appearance of your nose, rhinoplasty helps make it more aesthetically pleasing. This is beneficial for patients whose noses are too small, too big, or otherwise misshapen. Consult a reputable surgeon to determine if you’re a good candidate for rhinoplasty. If you’re satisfied with the shape of your nose, but your deviated septum is causing you problems, ask your doctor about the possibility to perform septoplasty. 

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