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How Do you Fix a Deviated Septum?

While most people have a nasal septum that is not perfectly symmetrical, a significant variation can impact breathing, smell and even sleep. How do you fix a deviated septum?

The nasal septum is the thin wall of cartilage and bone that separates the two sides of your nose. The nasal septum should be straight and even, dividing your nose into two equal passages. If the septum wall is crooked or not centered in the nose, then one nasal passage will be larger or more open than the other. This is called a deviated septum.

Surprisingly, for many people with a deviated septum, there are no symptoms. In fact, some estimates suggest that 3 out of 4 adults have some deviation in their septum. While many of them will go their whole life without knowing they have a deviated septum, others are not so lucky. On the other end of the spectrum, a deviated septum can cause a variety of symptoms that are mildly inconvenient to downright painful.

Deviated septums can cause sinus pain, pressure and headaches. Congestion is common on one side in particular since that passageway may be smaller or more easily blocked. Recurring sinus infections are another symptom of a deviated septum because it’s difficult for the sinuses to drain properly. Loss of smell and nosebleeds are also side effects of a deviated septum, as is snoring at night. In serious cases, a deviated septum can cause sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing is interrupted during sleep due to a physical blockage in the airway.

Symptoms of a deviated septum can be treated in multiple ways. Medications can clear congestion and treat or prevent chronic sinus infections. A steroid nasal spray can bring back the sense of smell, and nasal strips can be used to open the nasal passages to allow for better breathing at night. For severe cases, or for those who continue to suffer from their symptoms in spite of less invasive treatments, surgery may be a final treatment option.

Surgery is the only permanent option to physically correct the deviated septum. Called a septoplasty, surgery for a deviated septum can be done as an outpatient procedure under local anesthetic, or under general anesthesia if combined with a rhinoplasty procedure to reshape the outside of the nose. A septoplasty takes between 1-2 hours and is generally considered a straightforward surgery with a relatively quick recovery time.

While surgery is the only true fix for a deviated septum, there are many ways to make living with a deviated septum more comfortable. Having deviated septum symptoms and want to speak with a doctor about an exam and treatment options? Call Biltmore ENT at (602) 956-1250 to schedule an appointment today.

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