Normally the septum that equally separates the nasal passageways into two equal halves, should be located at the center of the nose. But in many people, this is not the case. Due to certain factors present at birth (congenital) or injury, the septum shifts away from the midline by a wide degree thus becoming deviated or displaced. This makes one nasal passage smaller than the other. This condition is known as deviated septum. According to medical experts, almost 80% of people have this problem. Only those with a severe misalignment experience breathing problems, and severe symptoms thus requiring treatment.
What Indicates A Deviated Septum?
# The most important symptom is breathing difficulty. And with one nasal airway being smaller than the other, one side becomes more congested. This congestion becomes severe in an event of an upper respiratory infection or allergies, as such illnesses make the nasal passages swell and become narrower.
# Sinus infections may become frequent as a result of mucus that gets trapped in the sinuses because of the smaller nasal passageway. And because of such infections, the sinuses may swell up and pressure can build up within them. But with the nasal airway blocked, the pressure worsens and this might trigger what is known as a sinus headache.
# A crooked septum can disrupt the normal flow of air through the nostrils. With time, this causes the septum or the nasal cavity to become extremely dry, casing frequent nosebleeds.
# The condition of nasal septum deviation can also trigger facial pain. This pain could occur from a sinus infection, or because the septum is irritating the outer wall of the nose.
# People with deviated septum tend to snore given the obstruction of air flow through their nasal airways. And children may breathe noisily during sleep. Some people may also feel their sense of smell to have diminished.
A condition of deviated septum that is not causing any bothersome symptoms or problems, can be simply managed using medicines like decongestants, antihistamines, etc. But one that is causing frequent nosebleeds, sinus infections, severe breathing problems or other troublesome symptoms, is usually treated with a surgical procedure called septoplasty. It is a permanent fix for the problem. In this surgery, the surgeon may readjust or get rid of the deviated portions of the septum, so that the septum can be moved to a normal position and the breathing space of the nostrils is even out.
Sometimes, septoplasty could be combined with rhinoplasty wherein, the surgeon performs a surgery to improve the appearance of the nose or reshape the same. Together, the procedure is called septorhinoplasty.
Recovery from septoplasty depends upon the severity of the deviated septum. Complications of the surgery are rare and may include infection, perforation in the septum, reduced or loss of sense of smell, and bleeding.
One cannot do much for preventing a deviated septum which occurs at birth. However, for those who have not come across this medical disorder, it is wise to take the necessary steps to prevent any injuries to the head or nose. Always wear seat belts while driving and helmets while riding bikes. People who are in contact sports should take appropriate protection. Normally, a deviated septum does not raise any major concern and it can be dealt with the help of medicines. Problem occurs when the deviation is so severe that it can block the nasal passageway completely and the affected person finds it difficult to breathe through his/her nose. And because of this, the condition could be more severe in small children.