Deviated Septum

Deviated Septum

The septum is the wall of tissue between the two nostrils. On most people, the septum is slightly off-center. This is known as a deviated septum. A severely deviated septum may need surgery, as it can block off one side of the nose. This can cause breathing difficulties, face pain or frequent sinus infections. A septal deviation may be present from birth or caused by injury.

How is it Treated?

Surgery may not be necessary in all cases. Medications are not able to fix a deviated septum, but they can control the symptoms. Antihistamines or decongestants may be prescribed, but if these do not work then an operation may be recommended.

The operation is known as septoplasty. During the operation, parts of the septum will be removed to readjust the position. The procedure usually takes between an hour and an hour and a half. The operation is normally performed on an outpatient basis.

Pros and Cons of Getting Surgery

Complications due to the operation can occur, but they are rare. Possible complications include septal perforation, nosebleeds or numbness. As the operation is performed under aesthetic, there are also the risks of anaesthesia to consider.

However, there are obvious benefits to the operation. Benefits of the operation can include reduced breathing obstruction, less or no face pain and less chance of getting a sinus infection. This can significantly improve someone's quality of life.

Getting Surgery...

If an operation is required, your doctor should be able to refer you to a nose surgeon. You can also contact your health insurance provider to obtain a referral. Certain health plans may require you to visit your doctor before seeing a specialist.

Most health insurance providers have their network of doctors listed online. You should be able to search the online database by speciality and location. There are also websites that provide state searches for ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists. You can enter your zip code and how many miles you are prepared to travel.

Once you have obtained the details of some specialists, you can contact them for further information before making your decision.

In short:
  • Most people have a deviated septum to some extent
  • If the deviation is severe, it can cause breathing difficulties
  • Medication or surgery can be used to treat the problem