Deviated Septum: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Deviated Septum: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

December 1, 2020
The nose has cartilage separating its two nostrils. This cartilage is referred to as the septum. Ideally, it divides your nostrils evenly. This, however, isn’t the case in some individuals with an uneven septum that makes one nostril smaller than the other. If the unevenness is severe, you will have a deviated septum. The condition could cause other health complications like breathing difficulties or blocked nostrils. Some septal deformities have no symptoms and could therefore go unnoticed. A deviated septum is such a deformity. Other septal deformities, however, exhibit the following signs:
  • Obstruction of the Nostrils: This condition could block one or both of your nostrils, obstructing airflow and cause breathing difficulties. This is accentuated when you have allergies that cause swelling and narrowing of nasal passages or catch a cold.
  • Nosebleeds: Exposing a deviated septum to airflow via the nose may be a huge contributor to bleeding or crusting in some people. This is because of the airflow’s drying effect.
  • Facial Pain: Experts argue that a deviated septum could be why you are experiencing pain in one side of your face. In the case of a seriously deviated septum, the nose surfaces rub together, causing pressure.
  • Noisy Breathing in your Sleep: If you breathe noisily during sleep, you may be having swollen intranasal tissues or a deviated septum.
  • Preferences in Sleeping Postures: To improve nasal breathing, some people tend to prefer certain sleeping positions.

When Should You See Your Doctor?

Rush to South Florida ENT Associates in Jupiter, FL if you experience:
  • Blocked nostrils that are resistant to treatment
  • Sinus infections that come and go
  • Frequent nosebleeds


The condition is characterized by the displacement of the nasal septum to one side. It is caused by:
  • Birth Conditions: A deviated septum sometimes occurs during fetal development. This way, the baby is born with a deviated septum.
  • Nose Injury: An injury or trauma to your nose could lead to dislocation of the nasal septum. In infants, this occurs at birth. In adults, various accidents could cause nose injury and, consequently, a deviated septum. Contact sports, automobile accidents, and rough play could cause trauma to your nose.
As you grow older, your nasal structures are altered, which worsens a deviated septum over time. Irritation and swelling of the sinus and nasal cavities also further the narrowing of the nasal passage in people with deviated septum causing nasal obstruction.

Risk Factors

As seen earlier, the condition is present in some people at birth or develops over time due to injuries and trauma to the nose. The following factors, therefore, increase your chances of ending up with a deviated septum:
  • Engaging in contact sports
  • Not buckling up when in motor vehicles


The following complications arise from having a severely deviated septum that causes nostril obstruction:
  • Dry mouth: Results from excessive mouth breathing
  • Congestion in the nasal passages
  • Interrupted sleep patterns due to breathing difficulties


Initial treatment aims at managing your symptoms–postnasal drip and nasal congestion. The doctor may recommend:
  • Decongestants: These are medications that reduce congestion in the nasal cavity, therefore keeping your airways open. They are available in both spray and pill form. Caution should, however, be exercised when using these drugs as frequent use causes dependency. Also, because they are stimulants, decongestants could increase your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Antihistamines: These medications eliminate symptoms of allergy and cold. Worth mentioning is the fact that antihistamines have a drowsy effect and alter your physical coordination.
  • Steroid Sprays: Prescription nasal sprays serve to reduce nasal inflammation and prevent a runny nose. You should, however, expect side effects such as irritation in the throat and nose and dryness.
While medications are just but a temporary solution, the following treatments can fix this deformity:
  • Septoplasty: This refers to a surgical procedure that corrects a deviated septum. It is performed when the patient is experiencing notable airway obstruction, frequent nosebleeds, and chronic sinusitis. During the procedure, your doctor relocates the nasal septum to its ideal position.
  • Rhinoplasty: This term is used to refer to surgery that is done to reshape your nose. It occurs concurrently with septoplasty and involves readjusting your nose’s cartilage and bone to alter its size or shape or both.