Deviated Septum – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Deviated septum, as the name suggests, occurs when the septum i.e. the thin wall inside our nasal cavity, is misaligned. Essentially the septum divided the cavity into two i.e. our nostrils. It is made up of tiny blood vessels and is tough but can be bent out of place meaning one nostril is wider than the other.
It is estimated that eight out of ten people actually have a deviated septum. However, in most cases, people do not even realize that they have a deviated septum. The reason why many people are unaware of this condition, is in fact, on account of the fact that it does not manifest any unusual symptoms in most cases. Only in cases where the deviation is severe, do complaints like an obstruction in airflow, even leading up to blockage in the narrower side of the nasal passage and difficulty in breathing, occur.
To understand this condition, it is important to understand the causes of a deviated septum i.e. the reasons why the septum is dramatically off-center:
1. Birth defect or congenital disorder: Many times a deviated septum occurs in the early stages of fetal development and is noticeable right at birth.
2. Injury during childbirth: An infant may suffer from a deviated septum if he or she has suffered even a minor injury during birth as the septum is quite susceptible to being bent out of position during birth.
3. Trauma through injury: In adults or children, even a minor trip and hit to the nose may displace the septum or something as mundane as colliding with someone while walking or while playing a sport. Car accidents, active sports or physical fights are the most common causes of a deviated septum.
A crooked cartilage in the nose can actually lead to a couple of risks which people must be aware of:
1. A person born with a deviated septum is at higher risks while playing contact sports.
2. Not wearing the seatbelt in a vehicle is another risk factor for those susceptible to severe deviated septum.
3. Repeated drug usage can also cause the cartilage and lining of the septum to deviate.
4. A deviated septum could lead to nose problems like chronic sinusitis
5. As the age of a person progresses, the discomfort associated with deviated septum may also increase.
So how do you know that you may have a deviated septum which may, in fact, need not just care on your part but probably also a visit to the doctor?
It is important to be sensitive and mindful of the following symptoms:
1. Obstruction of one or both nostrils – Nasal congestion, especially on one side, is a predominant symptom of a deviated septum which should be checked out.
2. Nosebleeds – Deviated septum cause the surface of the cartilage to dry out and start bleeding at the slightest irritation.
3. Facial pain/headaches – Since the airway isn’t clear, it causes a build-up of pressure and this leads to pain on the side of the face with a narrower passage or even headaches.
4. Snoring / Disrupted sleep – Many times there is a swelling of the intranasal tissues as well which causes breathing difficulties while sleeping, especially in infants and children. Sleep apnea is a serious condition for which this condition could be contributing factor.
5. Sleeping on one side – A preference to sleep on one side on account of sub-optimal breathing when you sleep on the other side, is a manifestation of this condition.
6. Sinus infections – Chronic nasal drip, frequent sinus infections and other symptoms of a cold are common for those suffering from severe deviated septum.
Treating a deviated septum is very important. There are ways to get it treated which include:
Treatment to manage symptoms of a deviated septum:
1. Elevated head – Sleeping with your head elevated helps with relieving the symptoms that are interfering with your sleeping pattern.
2. Decongestants – These help with reducing the swelling in the nasal passage. There are pills as well as sprays available which help open up the nasal passage. Both should be used with caution.
3. Antihistamines – These help prevent allergy-like symptoms i.e. runny noses or blockages. However, they are known to cause drowsiness.
4. Nasal steroid spray – Prescription nasal corticosteroid sprays help with the congestion and inflammation over the course of 1 – 3 weeks to have maximum effect. It is advisable to take them only under the supervision of a doctor.
If these don’t bring relief, it is possible that one might need medical intervention in the form of surgery. Medical treatments only help with the swelling and congestion but won’t correct the deviation.
1. The surgical procedure is called to correct a deviated septum is called a septoplasty.
2. It is performed entirely performed through the nasal cavity. This would mean that there are no external bruises or external signs.
3. Septoplasty could be through a rhinoplasty too – which means altering the external appearance of the nose to help create more space and aid breathing. If it is combined with a sinus surgery, it is completely internal.
4. It is usually a two-hour surgery and can be done under local or general anesthesia.
5. The surgery corrects or removes those parts of the septum which are deviated.
At Apollo Spectra, we offer best-in-class surgical and post-surgical care for a deviated septum including a septoplasty.
At Apollo Spectra, we have a team of specialists that includes an ENT specialist, a dermatologist, a facial plastic surgeon and a pulmonologist, who would evaluate and devise the necessary treatment plan, after analysis. Our doctors are the most qualified and experienced. They are experts in various surgical techniques, giving you access to the one that is best suited for your needs.
Since a septoplasty may modify the structure and the appearance of your nose, our plastic surgeons help achieve results that are customised as per your demands. At Apollo Spectra, our doctors are constantly involved in studying and research to come up with better techniques for nasal surgeries of this sort.
When is surgery needed for a deviated septum and how much will it cost?
Usually when medicines do not help with the stuffed nose is the time that a surgery is recommended. It brings immense relief to those suffering from chronic symptoms. It usually costs around Rs. 20,000 plus overhead expenses like medication.
How much pain will I have? Will my face be swollen or black and blue?
Your face will not show any signs of alteration or bruising unless it is a rhinoplasty. And the pain levels are usually controlled with paracetamol or in most cases, with nothing at all. In 3-5 days, there should be no pain at all.
Can I blow my nose after surgery?
Yes, but gently so as not to cause any irritation to the septum.
Will I go home afterward or stay overnight?
You should be able to go home. It is advisable that someone accompanies you for this surgery to ensure you reach home safely on account of being under anesthesia.
Remember that the septum may never truly be straight and centered. Even if it is straight, it may be off-centered. If it is centered, it may have contours and bulges. All that one can do is be aware and take precautionary or curative steps as and when required.