You regularly feel pain and pressure in your face, you are usually congested and you can’t remember the last time you actually got to taste the food you were eating. Most of your nasal trouble seems to be located on one side of your nose, making you wonder if there’s something wrong with the internal structure of it.
It could be that you have a deviated septum and that your deviated septum has caused your sinusitis. The good news is that relief is available for both your sinus pain and your deviated septum. Understanding what is causing what, and what you can do about your symptoms, can help you make a plan to get relief.
What is Sinusitis?
When you have sinusitis, the tissue in the nasal cavities becomes inflamed. Sinusitis comes in two forms and is often caused by a variety of factors. Acute sinusitis often resolves on its own after a few days or weeks. The symptoms of chronic sinusitis persist, though, usually for at least eight weeks. The inflammation in the sinus cavities is often severe enough to keep any fluid from draining, leading to a build-up of pressure, causing pain and swelling.
Sinusitis is often caused by bacteria or viruses. Bacterial sinusitis can be treated with antibiotics while a viral infection clears up with time and won’t respond to antibiotics. Resting and rinsing the nose with saline can help you feel better if you have either a bacterial or a viral infection.
Although chronic sinusitis can be caused by an infection, it’s more likely to be caused by a structural issue with the nose. Injury to the nose, nasal polyps (or growths) in the nose, and a deviated septum are a few examples of structural issues that can contribute to a chronic case of sinusitis.
What is a Deviated Septum?
Everyone has a septum. It’s the wall of tissue that divides the nasal cavity. And, many people have a septum that is slightly off center. It’s estimated that as many as eight out of every 10 people have some form of a deviated septum. For a lot of people, the deviation isn’t significant enough to cause any problems and they are able to go about their lives without discomfort, deformity or other nasal concerns.
But, in some cases, the deviated septum can cause problems. The septum can block one side of the nasal passage, leading to congestion on that side only. A deviated septum can also cause nosebleeds, headaches, and postnasal drip. Some people, particularly kids, will snore or breathe loudly when they sleep if they have a deviated septum.
Deviated Septum and Chronic Sinusitis
If a deviated septum leans so far over that it blocks one nasal passage, it can lead to symptoms of chronic sinusitis. The nasal passages can’t drain, so the fluid backs up in the sinus cavity, causing pain and pressure. In some cases, the deviated septum is the only factor contributing to a person’s sinusitis.
What You Can Do
While you can’t figure out if you have a deviated septum on your own, a surgeon who specializes in treating sinus conditions can. Even if you don’t have a deviated septum, finding out the cause of your constant sinus pain and congestion is worthwhile.
During your exam, the surgeon will most likely ask you about the history of your nose. While it’s possible to be born with a deviated septum, a fair number of people develop one after a nasal injury. A nasal surgery gone wrong can also cause a deviated septum.
A sinus specialist will look into your nostrils, using a nasal speculum to open the nostril and a bright light to get a good look. He might also use a long, thin scope to get a good look at the back of the nasal passages. Examining the nasal passages and nostrils allows your surgeon to determine how severe your deviated septum is and whether it’s contributing to your sinus problems.
There’s some good news and bad news about treating a deviated septum and chronic sinusitis. First the bad news. Surgery, known as a septoplasty, is usually the only way to correct any deviation and get long-lasting relief. You can use nasal sprays and neti pots to reduce inflammation and soothe the nose, but these only provide temporary relief.
The good news is that surgery is usually very effective, not only at correcting the deviation, but also at clearing up any symptoms of sinusitis, provided that the deviated septum is the only thing causing your symptoms.
Everyone has the right to breathe easily. If you think a deviated septum is giving you sinus grief, the best thing to do is book an appointment with a sinus specialist today.
About Dr. Rubinstein
Dr. Rubinstein has been helping patients in the Hudson Valley for almost sixteen years. He received his board certifications through the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and is also a member of the American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery, and an Assistant Professor at New York Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubinstein at the Hudson Valley Sinus Center, call 845-562-6673.