Curved partition: overview and more

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A deviated septum means that the cartilage and bone that separate the nostrils, as well as the right and left sides of the nasal airways, are substantially curved. Small abnormalities usually do not cause noticeable symptoms and may not be treated. But if the deviation is large enough, it can cause shortness of breath, nosebleeds, nasal congestion, and noisy breathing, which may have someone evaluate and correct the problem.

Usually a doctor can diagnose a curvature of the septum on exam. If this is severe enough, you may be offered an operation called a septoplasty to straighten the septum.

Symptoms of septal curvature

Shortness of breath is usually the first and most noticeable sign of a curvature of the septum. Other common symptoms include: :

Due to the normal aging process of the cartilage in the nose, a deviated septum can deteriorate over time. Health conditions like allergic rhinitis or chronic sinusitis and being overweight can also worsen nasal congestion caused by a deviated septum.

Small deviations of the nasal septum are common and do not require treatment unless they cause symptoms.

Petri Eschger / Getty Images

Causes

Studies show that up to 80% of the population has a deviated septum . Often there is a deviated septum from birth due to a genetic or congenital factor. In these cases, a high arched palate may also be present.

Trauma during childbirth can also contribute to the curvature of the septum. It can also occur as a result of an injury later in life, such as a broken nose as a result of a sport or a car accident.

Diagnostics

A deviated septum is best diagnosed by an otolaryngologist . This can usually be done quite easily by examining the septum in bright light with a nasal mirror.

Sometimes other tests may be done, such as a nasal endoscopy (a procedure in which a doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube deep into the nose) or a computed tomography (CT) scan .

These tests can help your healthcare provider evaluate the various nose and sinus conditions that can accompany a deviated septum. Examples that can generally be seen include:

  • Sinus infection and accompanying swelling; swollen mucous membranes
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • Nasal congestion
  • Hypertrophy of turbines due to allergies

Watch out

If you have severe symptoms and / or if If you experience breathing problems such as snoring or sleep apnea, your healthcare provider may recommend a septoplasty to correct a deviated septum. However, if you are under the age of 18, your doctor may recommend that you wait for the procedure, as your face is still growing and developing.

Septoplasty involves surgically removing the cartilage that makes up the nasal septum and moving it down the midline to open the airway on each side. Although there may still be a slight deviation after surgery, breathing and snoring problems are generally cured.

Septoplasty procedures are generally well tolerated; however, they still carry risks. This is why it is so important to thoroughly discuss with your doctor whether surgery is right for you.

The main risks of surgery are perforation of the septum and possible saddle nose deformity, in which the bridge of the nose collapses.

Other risks of surgery include:

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Complications of anesthesia.
  • Numbness of the upper teeth and nose.
  • Infection

In very rare cases, a cerebrospinal fluid leak may occur.

If you decide to go ahead with your surgery, the good news is that most septoplasty procedures are done in a surgical center (not a hospital), which means you can go home the same day.

Recovery from surgery will be gradual over several days or weeks. However, the tissues in the nose can take up to a year to fully heal.

Get the word of drug information

If you experience nasal symptoms such as a stuffy nose or difficulty breathing through a nostril, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor or ENT specialist. While there may be a deviated septum, there are many other potential causes for your symptoms.

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