A deviated septum is defined as a crooked or off center septum, the bone and cartilage that divides the nasal cavity. If the deviation is serious enough, it can cause breathing difficulties and chronic sinus conditions that require treatment. Ideally, the nasal septum should evenly divide the left and right nostril; however, this is rare.
About 80 percent of the population has a septum that is off center to some degree. A deviated septum can occur during birth or fetal development with other cases attributed to trauma or injury to the nose in sports or an auto accident that causes a nasal fracture.
A septal deviation may be slight and not easily noticed, but more severe cases of a deviated septum will present with more significant symptoms that may include nasal congestion in the narrower nostril, frequent nosebleeds, sinus infections, facial pain and pressure, headaches, postnasal drip and noisy breathing or snoring during sleep.
If the deviated septum isn’t too severe, symptoms may respond to treatment with medications. Antihistamines, decongestants and nasal steroid sprays can reduce congestion and inflammation in some patients. A surgical procedure known as a septoplasty is the only way to reposition a crooked septum. This involves removing excess bone or cartilage to create a larger breathing space and is typically performed in an outpatient setting using local or general anesthesia. A rhinoplasty to reshape the nose can be performed with the septoplasty.
A nasal fracture, more commonly referred to as a broken nose, is a break in the cartilage or bone in the nose. This is typically the result of trauma to the nose from sports or accidents. The nose will swell and may become misshapen or crooked. Nasal fractures often cause breathing difficulty and should receive medical attention to be corrected.
Nosebleeds most often come from the front of the nose. They are generally caused by trauma to the nose or septum. Very rarely, they may come from the back of the nose and typically occur in elderly people. In addition to trauma to the nose, nosebleeds may be caused by other medical conditions. They can be messy and may drip down the throat into the stomach, causing nausea. Excessive blood loss from a nosebleed is rare, but medical evaluation is recommended for chronic nosebleeds.
To determine the appropriate treatment plan for your nasal condition, your otolaryngologist will need to evaluate and diagnose your symptoms. Contact our office at 337-266-9820 to schedule an appointment.