The septum is the thin bone and cartilage barrier between the two sides of your nose. A “normal” septum runs straight up and down, dividing your nose into two equal halves. However, if you have a deviated septum, it’s skewed to one side, resulting in uneven nasal passage sizes. While an estimated 80 percent of the U.S. population has some form of deviated septum, many don’t suffer any ill effects.1 If you experience the following symptoms, though, it may be time to consult with your doctor.
One of your nasal passages may be nearly blocked if you have a severely deviated septum, preventing you from breathing properly. This blockage will be exacerbated if you have allergies or a cold. You may also find that you are particularly in tune with your nasal cycle, an automatic bodily process where the sides of your nose take turns becoming more congested, forcing one of your nostrils to do more of the breathing at any given time. You may notice difficulty trying to breathe when the larger nasal passage is congested.
Recurring Sinus Issues
A deviated septum may result in sinusitis, otherwise known as a sinus infection. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses and a buildup of excess mucus in the sinus cavities. This often makes it difficult or impossible to breathe through the nose. You may experience discolored mucus, post-nasal drip, headaches and earaches, facial pain and more unpleasant symptoms. A deviated septum often leads to recurring bouts of sinusitis, which may be classified as chronic if present for over 12 weeks.
Pain, Pressure and Congestion
With a deviated septum, you may experience general pain, pressure and congestion even without the presence of a sinus infection. Some scientists believe such discomfort could be the result of the septum impacting the inside nasal wall, although the exact cause is still unknown. A deviated septum can also worsen the effects of illnesses that already obstruct breathing, like common colds and allergies, increasing your discomfort.
Your nasal passages contain many blood vessels that rest close to the surface of your skin. As you struggle to breathe and try to draw more powerful breaths, the strain may cause your skin to dry and crack, leading to a nosebleed. You may also experience nosebleeds with sinus infections and inflammation, which commonly occur in patients with a deviated septum. While a nosebleed probably won’t hurt you, you’ll want to lean forward and pinch your nose to stop the bleeding. Otherwise, you risk an upset stomach from swallowing blood.
While sleep problems can be subtle and may go unnoticed, their presence may indicate a deviated septum. A deviated septum may cause you to snore at night or may contribute to sleep apnea, a disorder where you momentarily stop breathing during sleep. This can lead to daytime fatigue. You may also find yourself favoring one side of your body or one head position while you sleep. This is because you may breathe easier at night if you keep your larger nasal passage unobstructed.
Schedule a Septoplasty with Allergy & ENT Associates
While many cases of deviated septum don’t interfere with daily life, you may find that your deviated septum is causing significant breathing issues, sinus infections and pain. If that’s the case, the ear, nose and throat specialists at Allergy & ENT Associates can straighten your deviated septum through a surgical procedure called septoplasty. The procedure typically only takes 30 to 90 minutes, and patients leave the same day. Call (713) MY-SINUS to schedule your appointment today!