Our noses are one of the most important organs we have on our bodies, it helps filter oxygen and is the best way to breath. Over time, we may experience trauma to our noses that can cause what is called a Septal Deviation. At the St. Louis Sinus Center, our physicians are equipped to help in every aspect of septal deviation.
The nasal septum is a thin wall that separates your right and left nasal cavities. Ideally, it is situated in the center of your nose. However, it is estimated that 80 percent of all nasal septum’s are off-center making one nasal passage smaller.
Septal Deviation Symptoms
Those with mild to moderate deviations may be unaware as they don’t experience any symptoms. Patients with severe septal deviation may have difficulties breathing through the nose, which is one of the most common symptoms. Other symptoms may include:
- Blockage of one or both nostrils causing reduced airflow
- Nasal congestion, sometimes only on one-side
- Frequent sinus infections
- Facial pain
- Postnasal drip
- Snoring or difficulty breathing at night
What Causes Septal Deviation?
Septal deviations are usually the result of nasal trauma, but in some cases, it is just the way the patient’s nose developed during his or her childhood.
Diagnosing a Deviated Septum
Septal deviations can be diagnosed in one of three ways. The first will detect deviations in the front of the nose, while the second and third can detect deviations further back in the nasal passages.
- Step 1 – Examination: A simple examination will detect deviations that may be in front of the nose.
- Step 2 – Nasal Endoscopy: A nasal endoscopy is performed in the office by sliding a tiny camera mounted on a slender telescope and passing it through the nostrils. This procedure is well tolerated, and although some patients may prefer a numbing nasal spray prior to the procedure, generally an endoscopy can be completed with no special medications at all.
- Step 3 – MiniCAT Instant CT Scanner: The MiniCAT Instant CT scanner creates high-quality images of the sinuses in 20 – 40 seconds while the patient sits upright comfortably in an open chair. The low-dose CT uses only 10% of the radiation dose used typically with CT scanners, and the procedure can be performed in the office.
What are my treatment options for a Deviated Septum?
Medications and treatments will not cure a deviated septum but can help ease symptoms caused by a septal deviation. For chronic septal deviation, patients may need to seek surgery. Below are non-surgical treatment options for symptom relief.
- Allergy Treatment – If allergies are exacerbating the deviation, then patients may benefit from allergy treatment. Treating allergies will decrease the swelling of the lining of the septum and the surrounding tissue. Patients will notice less congestion, but it is important to keep in mind that this will not alter or fix the septal deviation.
- Medications- can be used to ease symptoms. Some options include:
- Nasal Steroids Spray
- Nasal Antihistamine Sprays
What Is a Septoplasty?
For patients with severe septal deviations, medications are usually less effective and the patient may ultimately require surgery. A septoplasty or septal reconstruction is a procedure meant to straighten the deviated cartilage within the septum. Septoplasty is an outpatient procedure and takes approximately 25 – 45 minutes. Septoplasty is performed entirely through the nose, and leaves no external scars or bruising after the surgery.
Patients generally need to remain home from work for five to seven days after the surgery. For patients who work from home or do mostly deskwork, it is normal to return to work within three or four days.
Results of a Septoplasty
Patients usually notice a significant improvement in their breathing after surgery. Symptoms such as snoring, chronic nosebleeds, and headaches are significantly reduced.