Deviated Nasal Septum: More Than Mere Appearances

A **deviated nasal septum** is the condition wherein the nasal dividing membrane is off-center or crooked. Though it not easily recognizable from the outside, the condition is common enough and almost 80% of human beings have deviated, dislocated or crooked nasal septum. Dislocation or breaking of the nose cartilage could either be a result to trauma like hitting the nose with hard objects, a fall or could also come from a congenital disorder.

The most common symptoms of a severe case of deviated septum include nosebleeds, excessive sneezing, persistent sinusitis, headaches, snoring and difficulty in breathing. To address these symptoms, doctors might recommend decongestants to clear up nasal congestions; nasal steroid sprays to reduce inflammation and antihistamines to prevent most colds and allergy reactions.

There are endless ways to avoid dislocating your nose. Simple precautions like wearing a mask or a helmet when engaged in sports other strenuous activities are recommended. Fastening your car seatbelt would also prevent you from accidentally banging your head, face down.

The association between a deviated septum and sleep apnea lies in the patient’s difficulty in breathing. A deviated nasal septum could cause the blockage of the nasal airways that will hinder the normal breathing pattern of the patient. Obstructive sleep apnea is the condition when a person has irregular breathing, breathing stops and gaps due to obstruction to the airways. To correct the condition in order to facilitate proper breathing, a deviated nasal septum surgery or the septoplasty is usually prescribed.

A septoplasty procedure will surgically straighten the deviated nasal septum. This is a minor out-patient operation and could be done in a well-equipped clinic. The patient will only be under local anaesthetics and the procedure could be over in an hour’s time. The surgeon will work on the nasal cavities; straighten the septum and stabilizing the cartilage with plastic tubes or splints. Wounds are then cauterized to stop the bleeding.

Recovery varies a lot, depending on the patient’s general health and healing process. A healthy person taking all precautions could heal in about two weeks, while frail health and careless handling of the wounds could take several weeks, even months to recover. Patients might experience swelling, discoloration in the nose area and bleeding after the deviated nasal septum surgery. Utmost care should be taken to avoid infection, hemorrhage and deformity. Children are not recommended with the procedure as the nose cartilage is still growing.

Not everyone who has a deviated nasal septum needs a corrective surgery. As a rule of thumb, if your nose doesn’t bother you, leave it alone. But if you suspects of having the condition, observe for the symptoms. Ask your bed partner if you snore. Do you have year round colds? Are you prone to sneezing? Do you wake up dry-mouthed? Are you sleepy during the day? Do you have unexplained headaches? If you have more than three of the mentioned symptoms, consult with your doctor. A deviated nasal septum might not affect your looks, but the quality of your life could be drastically affected by its symptoms.