Introducing: Ask a Doctor
At UTHSC ENT, we understand that patients need clear, helpful answers to their questions. We also know that a flood of new information can be overwhelming.
That’s why our department’s introducing Ask a Doctor: an ongoing series of posts that tackle Frequently Asked Questions about common issues. We hope these articles give you a better understanding of your situation and an easy path to treatment.
First up: the deviated septum!
Prepared by: Chad Nieri
Reviewed by: Dr. Sanjeet Rangarajan
What is a deviated septum?
The septum is a bony, cartilaginous barrier between the left and right sides of the nose. Generally, the septum should be in the center of the nose, giving an equal size & shape to the left and right nostrils.
However, if the septum is not in the center, a deviated septum can occur. It’s important to remember that deviated septums are an extremely common diagnosis and fully treatable.
Causes and symptoms
There are a few common causes for a deviated septum: 1) congenital (present at birth) or 2) direct trauma (and injury that affects the structure of the nose).
Symptoms include (but are not limited to):
-Blockage of one or both nostrils (most common)
-Trouble breathing of one or both nostrils
-Frequent sinus infections
-Noisy breathing during sleep
First, some treatment options are simply aimed managing symptoms. For example:
1) Decongestants (and/or nasal sprays): reduce nasal tissue inflammation & swelling to help with drainage and opening the nasal airway.
2) Antihistamines: prevent allergy related symptoms, such as a runny or stuffy nose.
Next, there are surgical treatments available if symptoms persist. These can include:
1) Septoplasty: the nasal septum is straightened and repositioned to be in the center of your nose.
2) Rhinoplasty: additionally, this may be performed during a septoplasty to modify the shape and size of the nose.
Are there potential complications?
Generally, a septoplasty is considered a very safe procedure–complications are rare. Still, we want you to have as much information before a procedure as possible!
So, potential risks of a septoplasty include:
-Excessive bleeding (most common)
-Persistence of nasal obstructive symptoms
-Decrease in sense of smell
-Upper teeth and lip numbness