Septal Deviation

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What is Septal Deviation?

Our noses are one of the most important organs we have. They are designed to filter and warm the air we breathe. The nasal septum runs down the middle of the nose, dividing the bone and cartilage into two compartments. If the septum is deviated, it can dramatically impact the nose’s function.

Septal deviation is a common condition where the nasal septum is off-center or crooked. It can be congenital, meaning present from birth, or occur as a result of injury or trauma. This deviation can cause issues with nasal breathing and lead to chronic sinus infections.

Deviated Septum

Symptoms of a Deviated Nasal Septum:

While some individuals are born with this condition, others may develop septal deviation through injury or trauma to the nose. The severity of symptoms can vary widely, depending on the degree of deviation. The lists below show some of the most commonly to rarely observed symptoms.

Common Symptoms

  • Nasal Congestion
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Frequent Nosebleeds
  • Snoring

Uncommon Symptoms

  • Facial Pain
  • Headaches
  • Postnasal Drip

Rare Symptoms

  • Sleep Apnea
  • Altered Sense of Smell
  • Chronic Sinus Infections

What Causes Septal Deviation?

There are two ways patients get septal deviation: congenital and acquired causes.

Congenital Causes

  • Genetic Predisposition: Some individuals are born with a deviation in their nasal septum due to genetic factors influencing their development.
  • Developmental Issues: During fetal development, the nasal septum may not form correctly or may grow unevenly, resulting in a deviation that is present at birth.

Acquired Causes

  • Trauma or Injury: This can occur from accidents, sports injuries, fights, or any impact that causes the nasal cartilage or bone to shift.
  • Nasal Growth Discrepancies: As individuals grow, the nasal septum might grow faster or in a different direction than the surrounding structures, leading to a deviation.

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How is A Deviated Septum Diagnosed?

Septal deviations can be diagnosed in one of three ways. The first will detect deviations in the front of the nose, while the second and third can detect deviations further back in the nasal passages.

  • Step 1 – Medical Examination: A simple examination will detect deviations that may be in front of the nose.
  • Step 2 – Nasal Endoscopy: A nasal endoscopy is performed in the office by sliding a tiny camera mounted on a slender telescope and passing it through the nostrils.
  • Step 3 – Imaging: A CT Scan may need to be performed, for visualization of the nasal cavity and the paranasal sinuses.

What Are the Treatment Options for A Deviated Septum?

Medications and treatments will not cure a deviated septum but can help ease or manage symptoms. This type of treatment may focus on managing symptoms through medications such as nasal corticosteroid sprays, decongestants, or antihistamines. These can help reduce nasal congestion and inflammation.

For severe septal deviation, surgery may be required.

What Is A Septoplasty?

For patients with a severe case of septal deviation, medications are usually less effective, so we will opt for surgery–often called a septoplasty. A septoplasty or septal reconstruction is a procedure meant to straighten the deviated septal cartilage and bone. Septoplasty is an outpatient procedure and is performed in combination with other nasal- and sinus-related procedures.

The procedure is typically performed by Dr. Rachel. Patients go under general or local anesthesia, depending on the extent of the correction needed. During septoplasty, we will make a small incision inside the nose to access the septum. We then trim, reposition, and remove parts of the bone or cartilage to straighten the septum.

The incisions are usually closed with absorbable sutures, and no external scars are visible since the surgery is performed entirely through the nostrils.

Septoplasty Recovery

Recovery from septoplasty generally involves a short period of downtime, with patients often returning to normal activities within a week, although they may be advised to avoid strenuous activities for a few weeks to prevent nosebleeds or other complications. After the surgery, patients typically experience improved breathing, reduced nasal congestion, and a decrease in sinus infections.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does septal deviation impact overall respiratory health and what are its long-term effects?
Long-term, this condition can lead to chronic nasal congestion, recurrent sinus infections due to impaired drainage, and potentially even changes in the structure of the mouth and throat due to altered breathing patterns. Chronic mouth breathing can also result in dry mouth, which increases the risk of dental health issues.

Can septal deviation contribute to sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, and how?
Septal deviation can contribute to sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea. The condition can cause diminished airflow through the nose, disrupted sleep patterns, and snoring, among others.

Addressing septal deviation through medical treatments or surgical intervention can significantly improve airflow, reducing the risk and severity of sleep apnea and leading to better sleep quality overall.

Can septal deviation recur after surgical correction, and what preventive measures can be taken?
Yes. There is a small chance that deviation can recur, especially if the surgery is done during childhood or adolescence before the nasal structures have fully matured. Subsequent nasal trauma is another factor that can lead to a recurrence of septal deviation.

How does septal deviation affect children differently from adults, and what are the treatment considerations?
In children, symptoms may be less apparent, but the condition can lead to chronic sinus issues and affect the development of the facial bones. Treatment for children often involves observation over time to see if the deviation corrects itself as the child grows. We only advise surgical intervention in severe cases that significantly impact breathing or lead to recurrent sinus infections.

How does MetropolitanMD tailor septal deviation treatments to individual patient needs, especially in complex cases?
For individuals with mild symptoms, we usually focus on medication first to relieve symptoms. In more severe or complex cases, Dr. Rachel will recommend septoplasty. This could be combined with other procedures to address all factors contributing to nasal obstruction.

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