Deviated Septum Can Cause Breathing Problems, Other Health Issues

Like many parts of your body, your nose is something that is meant to be symmetrical.

The septum is the wall inside your nose that divides the right side from the left side. In an ideal situation, your septum would be exactly in the middle of your nose, making each nostril an equal size.

However, an estimated 80 percent of all nasal septums are off-center, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology (AAO). 

Most of the time, people don’t notice when their septum is slightly off-center. But, when symptoms such as difficulty breathing occur, you could have a deviated septum, which means the dividing wall is severely shifted from the midline of your nose.

The most common symptom of a deviated septum is having a hard time breathing through your nose. The problem is usually worse on one side.

A deviated septum also can cause:

  • Facial pain
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Headaches
  • Nasal congestion
  • Noisy breathing during sleep
  • Postnasal drip

The condition can also interfere with sinus drainage and lead to repeated sinus infections.

To diagnose a deviated septum, your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and about any past nasal issues you’ve had, including breaks, severe injuries, and surgery, according to the Harvard Medical School (HMS).

Your doctor will also look inside your nose using a bright light and a nasal speculum – a tool to gently spread your nostril open. 

If you have a deviated septum that is causing repeated nosebleeds, sinus infections, or other ongoing problems, your doctor will refer you to an otolaryngologist – an ear, nose, and throat specialist – and possibly also a plastic surgeon for more treatment.

The way to treat a deviated septum is with a surgery, called septoplasty. During the procedure, the surgeon will move your septum into a normal, straight position.

For more information about deviated septum, talk with your primary care provider or make an appointment with a physician at Premier ENT Associates for an evaluation.