Did you know that healthcare researchers believe between 70-80% of people have a deviated septum? Septal deviation can trigger a host of respiratory problems, including sinus infections and difficulty breathing through your nose.
At Brooks Plastic Surgery in Hollywood, Florida, our board-certified surgeon, Christopher Brooks, MD, has extensive experience helping patients breathe easier. Dr. Brooks also understands it isn’t always easy for people to tell whether a deviated septum is the cause of your breathing problems or if something else is at play.
Read on to learn what you need to know about septal deviation, how it can affect your life, and what we can do to help you take back control of your breathing.
What does “deviated septum” mean?
There’s a wall of cartilage that runs through the middle of your nose. This creates two chambers. Doctors call these chambers the nasal septum. When this wall isn’t in the middle, you have a deviated septum.
Although between 70-80% of people have septal deviation, most don’t know it. This is because deviated septums don’t always cause symptoms. For some people, septal deviation causes trouble breathing and other issues. Most of the time, one side of the nose struggles to breathe more than the other.
Many people with septal deviation are born with the condition. Other times, it develops or gets worse after a nose injury. Less commonly, deviated septums result because of connective tissue disease, like systemic lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
How does a deviated septum affect my health?
It depends on the severity of your deviated septum and other factors, like whether you have seasonal allergies. People with minor septal deviation may not have any symptoms, or they may have minor symptoms.
The more severe your septal deviation, the higher the chances of having troublesome symptoms in your breathing and other areas of your life. Here’s a look at the top ways septal deviation can affect your health:
The most common symptom of septal deviation involves difficulty breathing through your nose. One side of the nose can feel like it’s clogged or blocked.
You may notice this symptom worsens when you exercise or engage in physical activities. Having a cold or seasonal allergies can also make your breathing troubles worse.
Chronic sinus infections
Septal deviation blocks your nasal passage. The more blocked your airway, the greater your risk of developing chronic (recurring) sinus infections since mucus gets trapped. The bacteria that cause sinus infections thrive on this excess mucus.
Chronic headaches and pain
Chronic sinus infections cause headaches called sinus pressure headaches. Some people develop migraines. They may also cause facial pain.
Frequent post-nasal drip or runny noses
Septal deviation can make your nose feel stuffy. This is because air can’t flow easily through your nasal passages. A deviated septum can also block sinus drainage. As a result, you may feel like you always have a runny nose.
Some people, especially people with allergies, also have frequent post-nasal drip. This is when mucus drips down the back of your nose into your throat.
A deviated septum restricts air flow. This causes the membranes in your nose to dry out. As a result, your risk of getting frequent nosebleeds increases.
Septal deviation can also affect your sleep. The added nasal congestion it causes makes it hard for many people to fall asleep. Some people find they wake up throughout the night because of it.
Problems with nasal airflow also mean you’re more likely to breathe through your mouth. This can trigger snoring and sleep apnea, a breathing condition that can be dangerous to your health.
What should I do if I think I have a deviated septum?
If you’re worried about a deviated septum, schedule an appointment with a nose specialist. Dr. Brooks meets with you and reviews your symptom history. He then examines your nose to check for septal deviation.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms and the degree of deviation, Dr. Brooks may recommend different treatments. If you have minor problems, Dr. Brooks may recommend trying nasal steroid sprays, decongestants, or nasal dilators first. These can ease symptoms and provide temporary relief.
Keep in mind that these conservative treatments do not fix your septal deviation. For people with significant deviation and major symptoms, a septoplasty may be needed to give you lasting relief.
A septoplasty is surgery that straightens your septum. This allows air to flow better through your nose. As a result, you breathe easier and experience fewer symptoms. Dr. Brooks has extensive experience performing successful septoplasties.
To get relief from breathing problems caused by a deviated septum, schedule a consultation by calling Brooks Plastic Surgery in Hollywood, Florida.