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What Can You Do About a Deviated Septum?

IMAGE While playing a weekly softball game, Dan slid into home plate and was whacked in the nose by the catcher. He had some bleeding and a black eye at first. But, over the next few months, he started to have a hard time breathing through his right nostril. At first, he ignored it.

Over time, he noticed that his nose was always stuffy. Finally, Dan made an appointment with his doctor who found that Dan had a deviated septum.

The Role of the Septum in Your Nose

A septum is any wall that divides two cavities. In the nose, the septum runs down the center and divides it into two chambers. The septum is made up of two parts. Toward the far back of the nose, the septum is hard bone. At the middle and towards the tip, it is made of cartilage—a tough, semi-flexible material.

Problems from a Deviated Septum

No one has a perfectly straight septum. One that is not fully straight is not often a problem. But, if the septum sticks out too far to one side or the other, it can cause problems moving air into and out of the nose. It can also make it hard for mucus to drain. A deviated septum can be due to genetics or trauma, such as a blow to the nose from an accident or while playing sports.

Some problems may be:

  • Noisy breathing during sleep
  • Stuffiness in one or both nostrils
  • Repeat sinus infections
  • Nosebleeds
  • Facial pain or headache

Treating a Deviated Septum

There are ways to treat this problem. It depends on the symptoms a person is having. Some things that may help are:

Medicine

Minor problems like a stuffy nose or snoring may be eased with over the counter or prescription medicine such as:

  • Antihistamines
  • Nasal decongestants
  • Nasal sprays with cortisone

Surgery

Lasting problems like chronic sinusitis, breathing problems, and very loud snoring may need a surgery called a septoplasty. The septum is straightened and repositioned during surgery. Tiny splints may be placed inside the nose to keep the septum in place while it heals. It is not usually done on children since their bones are still growing.

A deviated septum can be a bother, but there are options to help you breathe easier. Talk to your doctor about which ones may be right for you.

Resources

American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
http://www.aafprs.org

American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
http://www.entnet.org

Canadian Resources

Health Canada
http://www.canada.ca

Healthy Alberta
http://www.health.alberta.ca

References

Acute rhinosinusitis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/acute-rhinosinusitis-in-adults. Accessed June 11, 2021.

Chronic rhinosinusitis in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/acute-rhinosinusitis-in-children. Accessed June 11, 2021.

Septal deviation and perforation. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/ear,-nose,-and-throat-disorders/nose-and-paranasal-sinus-disorders/septal-deviation-and-perforation. Accessed June 11, 2021.

  • EBSCO Medical Review Board
  • 202106
  • 20210611