5 Signs You Have a Deviated Septum and What to Do About It
If you were born with a deviated nasal septum, you might not know what it feels like to experience trouble-free breathing. The condition seems minor enough, but it can cause a domino effect of symptoms and trouble capable of impacting your total-body health.
What is it? It's a condition occurring when the wall between nasal passages tilts to one side. This makes one nostril larger than the other. The smaller nostril can become blocked, leading to reduced airflow, difficulty breathing, headaches and a host of other problems. You can be born with a deviated septum or it could be the result of trauma, such as a car accident or a sports injury.
And the bad news? You're more likely to have one than not. 80% of the population has a deviated septum and doesn't even know it. If you are experiencing any of the 5 problems below, you may be one of the unlucky ones who have an abnormal displacement of the walls that separate the nasal cavity into two nostrils.
#1) You're having trouble breathing.
You may not be gasping for air but you just don't feel like you are ever getting quite enough. You may feel tired all the time, or find yourself breathing through your mouth when you aren't paying attention. Stuffy noses are common.
Do you have trouble sleeping unless you're lying on your side? This could be your body's attempt to maximize airflow, favoring the larger nostril during sleep.
Finally, you may find yourself out of breath quickly while trying to exercise or exert yourself in any way. This may be the most noticeable symptom.
If you've had a deviated septum for a long time, the amount of air you get through your nose may seem normal to you. You'll be surprised to learn how much better you feel and how much easier you will breathe once your deviated septum receives proper treatment.
#2) You get frequent, serious nosebleeds.
People with a deviation of the nasal septum tend to get frequent nosebleeds seemingly out of the blue. The irregularity in nostril size tends to dry one side of the nose out, which can, in turn, cause nosebleeds.
This won't be just a little bit of spotting- the bleeding tends to be moderate and the episodes can be difficult to stop.
Sometimes when the inside of the nose dries out, crusts can form. Bumping or blowing your nose can dislodge these crusts and cause bleeding.
Nosebleeds are the most common symptom of a deviated septum and the number one complaint driving patients to seek treatment. They may also be a sign you've got a problem with your turbinates. Turbinates are structures inside your nose that warm, clean, and humidify the air you breathe in. When they get inflamed, enlarged, or irritated, they can block the nasal passage and fail to do their job properly.
#3) You snore.
Any nasal obstruction can exacerbate an existing case of sleep apnea. A mild case can also cause noisy near-snoring on its own. A severe deviation of the nasal septum, in which an entire nostril is blocked, will cause snoring without causing sleep apnea.
Snoring is serious. When you snore, you're not getting proper rest, which means you're susceptible to any number of dangerous health conditions. It's also impossible to look, feel, or function at your best if you can't get a good night's sleep. Even if you don't think you have any problems with your nose, if you or your partner are snoring, it is worth checking out! It could be a symptom of any number of ear, nose, and throat problems.
#4) You get sinus infections frequently.
A deviated septum could keep your sinuses from draining properly. Excess mucus can then become a fertile breeding ground for bacteria. The result tends to be frequent and painful sinus infections. This is another condition typically driving patients to our door.
#5) You get severe headaches.
A deviated septum can lead to sinus infections. Sinus infections often lead to headaches because they tend to inflame and block the sinus cavities. The pressure alone can trigger headaches.
However, if you're prone to migraine headaches, the problem gets worse. Your inflamed sinuses can put pressure on blood vessels, triggering a migraine that can be quite difficult to get rid of.
It's Time for Treatment
You don't have to suffer from the effects of a deviated septum. Treatment can include antihistamines and decongestants, which can help clear the sinus passages and reduce discomfort. We can also prescribe a nasal steroid spray to reduce swelling.
If you have a truly severe case, a form of surgery known as septoplasty may be indicated. Surgery is a word nobody likes hearing, but it's effective. Some septoplasties may be performed as a quick, non-invasive outpatient procedure right here in our office. Additionally, enlarged turbinates can be reduced in our office. This process takes just a few minutes but can be very effective in opening the nasal passageways for better airflow.
Sometimes septoplasties will need to be performed in a surgery center or hospital, like any other surgery. We'll always use the most conservative, effective treatment option.
And we're keeping our eye on other, cutting-edge technologies. For example, a pain-free, non-invasive alternative procedure recently passed clinical trials.
Of course, headaches, breathing difficulty, nosebleeds, sinusitis, and blocked nasal passages could be caused by any number of ear, nose, or throat conditions. It's important to get an accurate diagnosis so we can find the best way to correct the problem. This may require a nasal endoscopy or CT scan.
In most cases, the only way to stop the suffering for good is to make an appointment. And you should! You deserve to breathe the way Mother Nature intended.