Deviated Septum

For the most part, the cycle of breathing through the nose is not noticeable. It is usually only apparent if you have a cold, or a structural problem in your nose or airway. For someone suffering from a deviated septum, the cycle of breathing is extremely noticeable. The blockage caused by the septum being deviated can actually make it difficult to breathe, or even cause discomfort.

Chronic sinusitis could be contributed to your nasal cavity shape. The nasal cavity is divided in half by your nasal septum. It is made of a central skeleton support covered by mucous membranes on both sides. The portion in the front is made up of a bendable but firm structure made of cartilage with skin over that which is full of blood vessels. The nasal septum is ideal when it is set midline, separating both the left and right side equally.

Studies show that nasal septum are off-center in 80 percent of people. This generally goes unnoticed unless you have a deviated septum. When you have a severely shifted septum you may have trouble in breathing regularly. Because the septum is shifted, the symptoms are worse on the side it is shifted to but can also be the reverse. The deviated septum can also interfere in any drainage from the sinuses and cause for more sinuses related infections.

Septoplasty is a surgery that is preferred for correcting a deviated septum. Minors usually do not undergo this surgery because up until the age of 18 the cartilage of the septum continues to grow. Most deviations to the septal occur from trauma to the nasal part of the nose.

Possible Causes of a deviated septum

  • Partial, or complete blockage of one or both nostrils
  • Single-sided nasal congestion
  • Nosebleeds
  • Recurrent sinus infections
  • Facial pain and headaches

There are some cases where someone with a deviated septum will experience mild symptoms when a “cold” is present. In these cases, nasal inflammation can be triggered by a respiratory infection and amplify problems caused by mild airflow from a deviated septum. When the “cold” ends, symptoms due to inflammation of the septum will also disappear in most cases.

Life with a Deviated Septum

The decision to live with a deviated septum, or have it corrected is up to you. In most cases symptoms that are minor do not need treatment.

If the symptoms of the deviated septum don’t bother or interfere with your life, then the benefit of treatment may be more of a risk. You might want to have an evaluation of the reason for the condition of any sinus problems you are experiencing. The symptoms may be a result of something that is not due to a deviated septum.

A septum that is severely, or moderately deviated can cause a partial, or complete nasal obstruction. In these cases, there may be difficulty breathing through one or more nostril. Even if the obstruction is on one side of the nose, the symptoms may be more noticeable on the unaffected side.

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Last Reviewed:
December 20, 2016
Last Updated:
October 17, 2017
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