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Nose Woes: a deviated septum and what you can do about it.

April 11, 2017 at midnight

Do you snore loudly when you sleep or often have a hard time breathing through your nose? Are nosebleeds and headaches an everyday occurrence for you?

You may have a deviated septum – and you need to do something about it.

A deviated septum is a condition in which the thin wall between your nostrils – known as the nasal septum – is off-center and displaced to one side. Though estimates show that as many as 80% of the population have a deviated septum, only a handful suffer from significant breathing problems, thus requiring treatment.

Deviated Septum Causes

There are mainly two reasons why you may get a deviated septum.

A deviated septum can be congenital – meaning it's inherited. It may occur as early as during fetal development and manifests readily at birth.

If you don’t have a congenital deviated septum, you may have gotten it as a result of trauma. An injury could have knocked your nasal septum out of position. This damage could be caused by a number of things, including car accidents, active sports, or fights. Even infants who don’t have a congenital deviated septum may experience trauma during childbirth and have their septum displaced.

While It may not be bothering you now, keep in mind that a deviated septum can worsen over time. As you age, your nasal structures continue to change, and this may lead to breathing difficulties eventually.

Other problems that can stem from a deviated septum include facial pain, nosebleeds, and disturbed sleep due to inability to breathe comfortably through the nose.

Treatment

For most patients, a mildly deviated septum is nothing to worry about. If it doesn't seem to bother you, you may not require any immediate treatment.

But if you have a pretty noticeable deviated septum that causes you discomfort, you'll need to undergo a septoplasty – a procedure that moves your nasal septum back to its normal position.

In a septoplasty, your surgeon makes a small incision inside your nose’s septum and removes the excess bone or cartilage to even out the breathing space of your nostrils. It is usually done on an outpatient basis and takes one to two hours.

You may combine a septoplasty with a rhinoplasty – a procedure that reshapes and improves the appearance of your nose. If you are having sinus problems, you can combine your septoplasty with sinus surgery.

Though there is no non-surgical way to treat your deviated septum, you can at least manage its symptoms through medications. Decongestants can help reduce nasal tissue swelling, thus keeping your nasal passages open. Nasal steroid sprays work the same way. Antihistamines can get rid of allergy symptoms, like nasal obstruction and a runny nose.

When dealing with a deviated septum, make sure you consult with a licensed EENT physician to discuss your concerns. He will help you understand the causes and symptoms of your condition, as well as provide you with a suitable treatment plan.


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