Have you ever looked in the mirror and thought that your nose seemed to bend more to one side than to the other? Everyone’s nose is divided down the middle by a thin wall known as the nasal septum. In some cases, the septum is straight and even. In many people, though, the septum deviates or leans towards one side or the other. Around 80 percent of septa are deviated in some way.
In some cases, having a deviated septum isn’t a big deal and it doesn’t cause symptoms. In other instances, a septum that leans too far to one side or the other can make life difficult. Get to know the causes of a deviated septum and what you can do to treat it.
Three Causes of a Deviated Septum
There are many things that can lead to a deviated septum. Usually, the condition is present at birth, meaning that the septum leaned one way or the other while the nose was developing. Another common cause of the condition is an injury.
In some cases, the injury can occur during the birth process, so that it looks as though the deviation was present at birth. In other cases, the injury occurs much later in life. Being in a car accident, getting hit in the nose while playing sports, or even tripping and falling on your face can all cause the septum to shift out of position.
While aging isn’t a direct cause of deviation of the septum, it can make a septum that’s slightly crooked worse. Your nasal structures change over time so it is possible that as you get older, your septum shifts slightly. Irritation and inflammation in the nasal passages, caused by allergies or ongoing sinus infections, can also make a deviated septum worse.
Signs You Have a Deviated Septum
Deviated septa are common, but symptoms aren’t necessarily a regular thing. Plenty of people will go through their lives with a crooked septum and not realize it if the deviation causes no problems.
But in some cases, the septum leans over so far that it can interfere with breathing and other nasal functions. One sign of a deviated septum is nasal obstruction. One of the nasal passages might feel completely blocked, making it difficult for a person to breathe through the nose.
Having one nasal cavity narrower than the other can also lead to difficulties with sleep. Some people with a crooked septum might find that they get a better night’s sleep and are able to continue breathing through their nose as they sleep if they sleep on one side. Often, people with a deviated septum sleep noisily and make snoring-like sounds as they sleep.
A deviated septum can also make sinus infections more likely and can contribute to their continued occurrence. In some cases, the condition can also make nosebleeds more likely.
Treating a Deviated Septum
If you have a deviated septum but don’t have any symptoms because of it, you most likely won’t need treatment. But if your nasal septum is having a negative impact on your quality of life by interfering with your ability to breathe, causing nosebleeds or creating other nasal difficulties, treatment is available.
The only way to correct a deviated septum is through surgery, known as septoplasty. During septoplasty, a surgeon straightens the septum and repositions it so that it evenly divides the nasal passages. Septoplasty can make it easier for you to breathe through your nose but won’t necessarily correct any issues related to chronic sinus infections or allergies.
Along with septoplasty, some patients benefit from rhinoplasty to reshape the exterior of the nose. Rhinoplasty is often combined with septoplasty to improve the nose’s overall function and appearance.
ABOUT DR. RUBINSTEIN
Dr. Rubinstein has nearly sixteen years of experience in helping patients with a deviated septum and other nasal problems in the Hudson Valley. A board certified facial plastic surgeon and board certified otolaryngologist, he has extensive knowledge of laser procedures, facial plastic surgery, and nasal and sinus treatments. This allows him to improve aesthetics as well as functionality of the nose and facial features. Dr. Rubinstein received his board certifications through the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. To learn more about what to expect after sinus surgery, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubinstein at the Hudson Valley Sinus Center by calling 845-562-6673.