Septoplasty is a commonly performed surgery designed to correct a deviated septum. But what causes a deviated septum? How do I know if my septum is deviated? What is a septoplasty and should I get one? We will try to address these questions below.
Here is what you need to know about a deviated septum
A deviated septum is the term used to refer to the displacement of the wall that separates the right and left nasal cavities within your nose. This septal wall is made out of bone and cartilages which are surrounded by a mucosal lining. The nasal passages are lined throughout with mucous membranes. In the event that the septum becomes displaced, it will tilt (or “deviate”) to one side thus causing one nasal passage to be bigger than the other.
The severity of this tilt will determine whether reduced air-flow, nasal blockage, and other breathing issues will occur. It is estimated that about 80% of individuals in the U.S do not have a properly aligned nasal septum. However, as a medical condition, a deviated septum typically refers to a moderately or severely displaced septum that leads to clinical symptoms (ie-nasal blockage and congestion).
When a deviated septum begins causing symptoms that affect your breathing, it is time to consider medical or surgical treatment options.
Causes of a Deviated Septum
Septal deviation may occur from trauma or, more commonly, is simply congenital – how we have each individually developed. In some cases, the deviation occurs while the fetus is still in the womb, or during birth. In fact, a study carried out in India in 2012 discovered that neonatal deviated septums afflicted about 20% of all newborns . Most of these cases were associated with birthing challenges and often occurred in babies with larger birth weights or with those who went through a difficult delivery process.
A deviated septum that is present from birth often has a C or S shape. This type of deviation commonly occurs on the anterior (front) part of the nose. The extent of this tilt may change or increase naturally as the individual ages.
Injury-related, or traumatic nasal deviations are typically irregular in shape, have an extreme angles, and tend to afflict all septal regions without bias. Additionally, injury-induced deviations tend to be accompanied by fractured or dislocated sections of cartilage. In many cases, the deviation is neither from birth, or trauma, but simply the way we have each developed over time.
Symptoms and Complications of a Deviated Septum
The most common symptoms of this condition are persistent nasal blockage and congestion. Patients often complain of facial pain and pressure, post nasal drip, dry mouth in the morning, headaches. These symptoms are often confused with those of an allergy, common cold, or respiratory infection.Individuals that have a mild case of this condition may only know of their issue during these periods.
Other signs and symptoms associated with septal deviation include:
- Frequent sinusitis symptoms (facial pain and pressure)
- Nasal congestion
- Frequent nosebleeds
- A nasal blockage that is more intense on one side
- Whistling noise when exhaling or inhaling
- Noisy breathing when sleeping
- Sleep apnea
- Poor sleep
- Dry mouth in the morning
Diagnosis & Treatment
There are various medical conditions – such as infections, allergies, and nasal polyps – that have symptoms similar to those of a deviated septum. This is why you need to visit an ear, nose, and throat specialist to diagnose your condition. If they suspect a deviated septum, they will begin reviewing your history for the possible cause such as a previous injury or surgery. They will often use a bright light and nasal endoscope to examine your nasal septum so that they may better understand the details of your septal anatomy.
If the symptoms caused by your deviated septum are not severe or problematic, you may not need any specialized treatment and over-the-counter, or prescription treatments would suffice. These may include:
- Saline irrigations
- Steroid sprays to mitigate inflammation
- Antihistamine pills or nasal sprays
Additionally, individuals who have troublesome symptoms should avoid exposure to irritants, for instance, allergens, because they will intensify these symptoms.
When to consider a Septoplasty
Septoplasty is a minimally-invasive surgical procedure performed designed to correct a septal deviation. Typically, a septoplasty treatment should take around an hour and may be performed under general (more common) or local (less common) anesthesia., usually as an outpatient procedure. Septoplasty does not impact the nasal appearance and most surgeons no longer use packing or splints which are noted to be quite uncomfortable. The healing process is associated with minimal discomfort for which simple Tylenol products will often suffice for pain control. Once healing has resolved, patients can expect to breathe more easily and experience less nasal congestion.
In cases where patients do seek a cosmetic change, a septoplasty can be combined with a rhinoplasty. In other cases, where patients also have significant sinus problems, septoplasty can be performed along with surgery on the sinuses. For other patients, the turbinates (structures along the nasal sidewall) may also be addressed at the same time to help improve nasal airflow.
One key to positive outcome is making sure that you and your surgeon have the same goals and expectations for your procedure. For this reason it is important that prior to surgery you have had all of your questions answered.
Becker Ear, Nose, and Throat Center is a leading corrective center for patients who can benefit from septoplasty procedures in New Jersey area. They have a highly skilled team of dedicated doctors waiting to serve its patients needs. Schedule an appointment today through the Becker Ear, Nose and Throat Center website at https://www.beckerent.com.