The shape of your nasal cavity could be the cause of chronic nasal complaints and even sinusitis. The nasal septum is the wall dividing the nasal cavity into halves; it is composed of a central supporting skeleton covered on each side by mucous membrane. The front portion of this natural partition is a firm but bendable structure made mostly of cartilage and is covered by skin that has a substantial supply of blood vessels. The ideal nasal septum is exactly midline, separating the left and right sides of the nose into passageways of equal size.

What is a Deviated Septum?

A “deviated septum” occurs when the septum is severely shifted away from the midline. The most common symptom from a badly deviated or crooked septum is difficulty breathing through the nose. The symptoms are usually worse on one side, and sometimes actually occur on the side opposite the bend. In some cases the crooked septum can interfere with the drainage of the sinuses, resulting in repeated sinus infections.

Septoplasty is the preferred surgical treatment to correct a deviated septum. This procedure is not generally performed on minors because the cartilaginous septum grows until around age 18. Septal deviations commonly occur due to nasal trauma or infections, and can be the result of previous unrelated nasal or facial surgery.

A deviated septum may cause one or more of the following:

  • 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

Associates of Otolaryngology

AOO Team Bio

Associates of Otolaryngology is a practice that has been serving the Denver area for over 40 years. This group of board-certified physicians has exceptional experience treating multi-generational families and meeting their needs in ENT services, sleep health, sinus and allergy treatment, hearing treatment, and facial plastic surgery. Our team includes ENT physicians, specialty-trained nurses, audiologists, and plastic surgeons. In addition to outstanding routine care, our team is available 24/7 for emergencies

Meet Our Providers

Nasal Obstruction, the Septum, and Sinusitis

Patients with chronic sinusitis often have nasal congestion, and many have nasal septal deviations. However, for those with this debilitating condition, there may be additional reasons for the nasal airway obstruction. The problem may result from a septal deviation, reactive edema (swelling) from the infected areas, allergic problems, mucosal hypertrophy (increase in size), other anatomic abnormalities, or combinations thereof. A trained specialist in diagnosing and treating ear, nose, and throat disorders can determine the cause of your chronic sinusitis and nasal obstruction.

Your First Visit

After discussing your symptoms, the primary care physician or specialist will inquire if you have ever incurred severe trauma to your nose and if you have had previous nasal surgery. Next, an examination of the general appearance of your nose will occur, including the position of your nasal septum. This will entail the use of a bright light and a nasal speculum (an instrument that gently spreads open your nostril) to inspect the inside surface of each nostril. A thorough examination of your septum and nasal cavity may also involve the use of endoscopic viewing of the back of your nose and the throat behind it.

Surgery may be the recommended treatment if the deviated septum is causing significant obstruction, debilitating and demonstrably related headaches, troublesome nosebleeds or recurrent sinus infections. Additional testing may be required in some circumstances.

Septoplasty

Septoplasty is a surgical procedure performed entirely through the nostrils, accordingly, no bruising or external signs occur. The surgery might be combined with a rhinoplasty, in which case the external appearance of the nose is altered and swelling/bruising of the face is evident. Septoplasty may also be combined with sinus surgery. It can be done with a local or a general anesthetic and is usually done on an outpatient basis. During the surgery, badly deviated portions of the septum may be removed entirely, or they may be readjusted and reinserted into the nose.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you dont fix deviated septum?

Leaving a deviated septum alone depends on what type of problems it is causing. Deviated septums can cause nasal blockage, snoring in sleep disruption, trouble with exercise, trouble managing allergies or sinusitis. If your doctor thinks a deviated septum is attributable to these things and leaving it alone may cause problems to persist. There are some people with mildly deviated septum‘s with minimal symptoms and they may be OK leaving it alone.

Is a deviated septum a big deal?

Deviated septum’s can range from mild to severe. Whether it is a “big deal” depends on what degree of symptoms it is causing. For example, a mild deviated septum with no significant symptoms is no big deal. However, a severe deviated septum causing nasal blockage, breathing problems and sinus issues may be worth correcting. Talking to an experience specialist will help you determine what is important to address.

Does deviated septum get worse with age?

The most likely reason the deviated septum would get worse is because of additional trauma that occurred somewhere later in your life. However, nasal blockage could worsen do the other factors related to age, allergies or sinus conditions.

How do you assess a deviated septum?

A deviated septum is best assessed by a trained surgical specialist and that usually begins with a physical exam. Sometimes medical therapy may be attempted if other conditions are discovered. Other tests may include nasal endoscopy and CAT scan if needed.

How painful is a deviated septum surgery?

Repair of a deviated septum is usually done while you are asleep under general anesthesia and so the discomfort of the procedure is well controlled. After surgery most patients are off their pain medicine between one and three days. Some people may have additional discomfort with other different types of nasal surgeries. Packing and splints might add some additional discomfort.

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