A deviated septum is a condition you may have had from birth, or it can result from a broken nose or similar injury. Regardless of its origin, a deviated septum can affect breathing and lead to chronic congestion and sinus infections.
The nasal septum is the wall between the left and right sides of the nose. It is firm, but bendable, and it is covered by skin that has a rich supply of blood vessels. Ideally, the nasal septum should lie exactly in the center, so that the left and right sides of the nose are of equal size. In about 80% of us, however, the nasal septum is a little off-center, although most of us never notice. Less often, the septum is more dramatically off-center. This is called a deviated septum.
No nose is perfect. In fact, most of us have noses that are slightly crooked and could benefit from deviated septum surgery (septoplasty) a procedure where the center of the nose, or septum, is straightened and aligned.
A deviated septum is a condition in which the nasal septum (the bone and cartilage that divide the nose in half) is significantly crooked, making breathing difficult. Most people naturally have some deviation only people with severe deviations need treatment.
Treatments for deviated septum symptoms can be as simple as saline nasal spray can be effective. But first, it helps to understand exactly how this problem affects your health.
What is Deviated Septum?
A deviated septum occurs when the thin wall (nasal septum) between your nasal passages is displaced to one side. In many people, the nasal septum is displaced or deviated making one nasal passage smaller. A deviated septum refers to the septum that provides a division of cartilage to separate the two nostrils being off center. This deviation from the midline of the nose may cause troublesome symptoms and can usually be permanently corrected with surgery.
There are other methods of treatment that may help, but only temporarily. The best way to prevent a deviated septum is to protect the nose from injury. Some deviated septum noses only have problems and need help in one nostril. The Nose Cones may be separated and worn individually to combat this very prevalent condition.
Deviated Septum Causes
Most people do not have a perfectly straight septum, but it may be misaligned due to a two main causes:
A person can be born with a deviated septum (congenital), or it can bend due to normal growth during childhood. Another cause of deviated septum is injury or trauma, such as a broken nose.
A deviated septum may result from several different factors that force the cartilage to become displaced.
Causes of a deviated septum include:
- Improper formation during fetal development
- Injury during delivery
- Trauma to the nose such as incurred during contact sports
- Side effects of previous treatments
- Blockage of one or both nostrils
- Nasal congestion, sometimes one-sided
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Frequent sinus infections
- At times, facial pain, headaches, postnasal drip
- Noisy breathing during sleep (in infants and young children)
- Other defects such as cleft lip and palate
Deviated Septum Self-Test Diagnosis
A deviated septum is not something you can see or diagnose just by looking at one’s nose. Even if you have a nose that looks good and straight from the outside, that is not enough assurance that you don’t have this condition. The good news is that there are many ways to determine if you have a deviated septum. If you have breathing and sleeping problems and you want further proof that you have it, you can do a simple test right from the comforts of your own home, without the need for special equipment. Here are the steps you need to do:
Place your index finger on one side of your nose and breathe in air on the nostril that is open.
Do the same thing on the other side of your nose. While doing steps 1 and 2, check how easy or difficult it was for air to pass through your nostrils. If your breathing is uneven, or if breathing is more difficult on one side than the other, then chances are you have a deviated septum.
Deviated Septum Treatment
Deviated septum can be treated by following ways:
One of the most common symptoms of a deviated septum is nasal congestion, which often causes breathing difficulties. To alleviate this symptom, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroid nasal sprays. These sprays help reduce nasal passage inflammation and ease drainage, thus making it easier to breathe.
Decongestants are the type of medications that help reduce swelling in the nasal tissues, thus keeping the nasal airways open. Decongestants are usually taken either in pill form or as a nasal spray. While effective, decongestant sprays can lead to dependency on the part of the patient.
Antihistamines block chemical called histamine which is released by the body upon exposure to an allergen. Histamines cause the swelling in the throat and nose that are associated with allergic reactions. Antihistamines block the release of these chemicals, thus preventing the symptoms from occurring.
Rhinoplasty is a type of surgery used to change the shape of the nose. Although rhinoplasty is often considered by patients as a cosmetic procedure, it can be effective in treating the problem of a deviated septum because the surgery modifies the physical shape of the cartilage and bone of the nose.
A deviated septum can be corrected using a surgical procedure called a septoplasty. It is usually indicated for individuals who still experience pain, discomfort and other symptoms even after undergoing other treatments and therapies.
Deviated Septum Surgery Cost
Surgery can cost $6,000-$30,000 or more, depending on what is included (such as cartilage scoring, contouring or a replacement/graft). According to the Agency for HealthCare Research and Quality this class of surgery typically costs an average of $10,219. Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln, NE, estimates costs for septoplasty in 2012-13 at $7,150-$26,303.