Nasal septum is the wall between two sides of the nasal cavity. The septum is made up of cartilage and bone. Ideally, the septum should be in the midline. However, 80% of people do not have a perfectly straight septum and most of them do not require correction. When the septum is not in the midline, this is called a deviated septum. Most of these misalignments are mild, do not cause any complaint and are not considered to be a health problem. Severely deviated or symptomatic septums require surgical correction.

What is the cause of deviated septum?

The mechanism of a deviated septum may vary. Rarely, some infants are born with a deviated septum. Sometimes, the septum is bent durng birth while the baby passas through the narrow birth canal. Trauma, falls, sports injuries, traffic accidents can also cause a deviated septum. Septal deviations may also occur as a result of anequal growth of bone and cartilage.

What are the symptoms of deviated septum?

The most common symptom of deviated septum is difficult breathing. This is usually at the side where the septum is deviated, but it may also cause alternating nasal obstruction. A septal deviation may lead to:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Recurrent nose bleeds
  • Recurrent sinusitis
  • Headache
  • Postnasal drip
  • Snoring

People with slight deviations may only have symptoms during colds. Swelling of nasal tissues can make a mild occlusion to become evident, which may resolve after the cold heals.

How to diagnose a deviated septum?

Your doctor will ask you if you had any trauma or surgery of your nose, after listening your complaints. Then the position of the nose and septum will be examined. This is done with a device that opens the nostril without causing any discomfort and, if necessary with an optical instrument called an endoscope. There is usually no need for further examination for the diagnosis of deviated septum. If your doctor thinks that your complaints may be associated with other causes, such as sinusitis and allergies, imaging or laboratory tests may be recommended.

What is the treatment?

The treatment of deviated septum is surgical and surgery to fix a deviated septum is called a septoplasty.

Deviated septum is commonly accompanied by turbinate hypertrophy and therefore, turbinate reduction is usually required during a septoplasty.