If you have ongoing issues with your sinuses, then it might be time to consult with an ENT about any structural problems that need to be corrected. A deviated septum is one of the multiple conditions that can affect sinus drainage and increase the likelihood of infections.
Deviated Septum: What is It?
The septum is cartilage inside your nose that separates the two nostrils. A healthy septum divides the nostrils evenly down the center.
But some people have a septum in a different position. For example, if the septum is uneven and isn’t in the middle, then it can result in one nostril being larger than the other. A severe case is known as a deviated septum.
The truth is that this condition is quite common. In fact, the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery published that 80% of all people have deviated septums to some degree.
You can be born with a deviated septum. Or, it can be the result of trauma or injury to the nose – such as a car accident, fight, or contact sports.
Is Medical Treatment Required for a Deviated Septum?
It isn’t necessary to seek medical treatment for a deviated septum in most cases. Treatment is only required if the septum is negatively impacting the quality of life or causing health issues.
Sometimes, the deviation can result in difficulty breathing or a blocked nostril. These are two examples of when you might consider talking to an ENT about deviated septum treatment.
Age is a factor that can cause a deviated septum to worsen. For example, a patient might not have any problems because of a deviated septum in the early years of life but start experiencing complications as they get older.
Deviated Septum Symptoms
Since most deviated septums are minor, there are typically no symptoms involved. Moderate or severely deviated septums might result in the following symptoms:
- Sinus pressure
- Nasal congestion
- Loud breathing or snoring while sleeping
- Dryness in one nostril
- Sinus infections
- It’s easier to breathe out of one side of the nose
- Difficulty breathing when the mouth is closed
- Facial pain
If your breathing issues are affecting your life, or you are experiencing chronic issues (such as infections and nose bleeds), then it’s time to talk to an ENT about treatments for a deviated septum.
Mild Deviated Septum: Treatment Options
As mentioned earlier, most people don’t require treatment for a deviated septum. If you are experiencing symptoms as a result of the deviation, then an ENT might help with minimally-invasive solutions to alleviate these symptoms, such as:
- Nasal strips
- Nasal steroid spray
Keep in mind that these treatments don’t fix the deviated septum. Instead, they make it easier to live with the symptoms.
Severe Deviated Septum: Treatment Options
If you have a severely deviated septum, then surgery is the only treatment option available. However, because there are potential risks, costs, and other factors involved in surgery, it’s important to discuss your situation with an experienced ENT before deciding to move forward with surgery.
Most doctors recommend minimally-invasive treatment attempts before surgery. A septoplasty might be the recommended course of action when your symptoms don’t improve. This treatment is a form of reconstructive surgery to reposition the septum.
What You Need to Know about a Septoplasty
Here are a few things that you need to know in advance if you are thinking about a septoplasty:
Preparation for Septoplasty
Before the surgery, you might need to stop taking certain medications that can increase the risk of bleeding, such as ibuprofen or aspirin. Your doctor will consult with you about the current medications you are using.
On the day of the surgery, you will be in the treatment room for about 90 minutes. General anesthesia is used to put you to sleep, although there are times when local anesthesia is an alternative.
During the surgery, the surgeon cuts the septum and removes any excess bone or cartilage. The result is a straighter septum and evenness between the nostrils. It’s common to insert silicone splints in the nostrils to hold the new septum position in place during recovery.
What should you expect after deviated septum surgery? You will have medication from the doctor to help reduce the risk of infection and manage the pain. Make sure to follow the timing and dosages as recommended by your doctor.
Additionally, be gentle with your nose during the recovery time. It takes between 3 – 6 months before the septum is relatively stable after surgery. Avoid bumping or injuring the septum as much as possible for a year after the treatment.
Immediately after the deviated septum surgery, you can improve the outcome with these recovery tips:
- Keep the head elevated while sleeping
- Don’t blow your nose
- Avoid pressure on the nose
- Don’t participate in strenuous activities, such as exercise or heavy lifting
- Instead of wearing clothes that pull over your head, choose clothes that fasten in the front
For most people, deviated septum surgery is an outpatient procedure, which means you will be able to go home after being monitored in the recovery room. This treatment is considered safe, but there are always risks of complications, like any other type of surgery.
Potential complications of deviated septum treatment include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Reduced sense of smell
- Change in the shape of the nose – sometimes a rhinoplasty is also done to reshape the nose intentionally
- Continued symptoms after the surgery is complete
- Temporary numbness in the upper teeth and gums
The risk of complications is low. But it’s important to understand these possible outcomes before you decide to move forward with the surgery. Our team is happy to answer your questions and explain the pros and cons of a septoplasty.
Consult with an ENT for Deviated Septum Diagnosis
You deserve a better quality of life! If you live with a deviated septum, then it’s time to talk to an ENT to see if you will benefit from treatment.
Our team at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat offers full-service solutions in our offices, including imaging and diagnostics. We can determine the severity of your deviated septum, as well as other complications that might be impacting your sinus health.
If you live in Dallas or Collin County, Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat is nearby. We have multiple locations for you to choose from, including Frisco and Plano, TX.
We invite you to use this online form for requesting a consultation with an ENT. Or, call our office if you would like to speak to someone over the phone: (972) 596-4005. We are just a phone call away!