If you’ve been told that you have a deviated septum, you might not understand completely what that means. The term “deviated septum” gets tossed around a lot these days, but many men and women talk about the condition without ever getting a full explanation from a specialist. Your primary care physician, sleep specialist, or an ENT specialist (ear, nose, and throat) can officially diagnose a deviated septum and help you to identify the symptoms caused by it. By learning more about the causes, effects, and treatment options for a deviated septum, you can plan your next steps for correcting the problem.
The septum is a tiny piece of cartilage found within the nose. It serves as a barrier between the nasal passageways, helping to maintain the steady flow of air in and out of the left and right nostrils. When the cartilage is misaligned in some way, the tilting can create imbalance in your breathing. Sinus drainage and sleeping issues may also result from one or both nasal passageways being partially or entirely blocked. Roughly 80 percent of people actually have a deviated septum, though many do not know.
Many of the patients who learn they have a deviated septum were most likely born with it, but there are other ways that the cartilage flap can shift or become damaged. Injuries and trauma, as well as botched nasal surgeries can all leave the septum out of alignment.
If you have ever experienced any combination of these issues, your septum may be deviated:
- Breathing trouble through one or both nostrils
- Chronic nasal congestion, typically with one side being more congested than the other
- Recurring sinus infections
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Unexplained headaches
- Facial pain around the nose and sinus cavities
- Postnasal drip
- Loud breathing or snoring when sleeping, possible even sleep apnea
Misaligned nasal cartilage can produce mild, moderate, or even severe symptoms that can be difficult to live with, as seen in the list above. Correcting the septum can help to resolve these issues, usually accomplished through a nasal surgery.
If you are having trouble sleeping or breathing, it may be due to a deviated septum. The best way to get to the root of the problem is with a professional exam, to get you back on the road to breathing and sleeping well. Call Gingras Sleep Medicine at (704) 944-0562 to request an appointment, or request an appointment online.