• Deviated Nasal Septum

    (Deviated Septum)

    Definition

    The nasal septum is the wall that separates the left and right nostrils. A centered septum allows air to flow equally through each nostril. In a deviated nasal septum, the wall is not centered.
    A deviated septum may cause no symptoms at all. In severe cases, airflow through one or both nostrils may be blocked. A blocked nostril may cause chronic stuffiness and a tendency to get sinus infections.
    Deviated Septum
    IMAGE
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Causes

    Causes include:
    • Congenital (present at birth)
    • Birth injury to the nose
    • A blow to the nose, often during an accident or while playing sports

    Risk Factors

    Trauma is the most common risk factor. Contact sports, such as karate or football, increase the risk of trauma.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms include:
    • Stuffy nose—one or both nostrils
    • Nosebleeds
    • Breathing noisily during sleep
    • Facial pain or headache

    Diagnosis

    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done, paying special attention to the nasal passages.

    Treatment

    Most people will not require treatment. In severe cases, surgery may be needed. Surgery on the septum alone is called septoplasty . It relieves nasal blockage by centering the septum between the 2 nostrils.
    Sometimes surgery to reshape the nose (rhinoplasty) is performed at the same time. The 2 procedures together are called septorhinoplasty. Children who need surgery usually wait until they have stopped growing, around age 16.

    Prevention

    To help prevent a deviated septum:
    • Wear seat belts in automobiles and airplanes
    • Wear appropriate protective headgear when playing sports

    RESOURCES

    American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery http://www.entnet.org

    Health Finder—Department of Health and Human Services http://www.healthfinder.gov

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery http://www.entcanada.org

    The Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons http://www.plasticsurgery.ca

    References

    Fact sheet: deviated septum. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/?q=node/1406. Accessed February 17, 2015.

    Revision Information

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