A deviated septum is a common condition that involves a displacement of the septum, the wall that separates the nostrils, to one side of the nose. In adults, the septum is made of cartilage and bone, and helps to support the nose and its mucous membranes, and enables regular airflow. A deviated septum often develops as a result of an injury to the nose. This condition may cause one nasal passage to be smaller than the other, which can affect breathing if the difference is great enough.
A deviated septum may also be the underlying cause of sinus problems, snoring, or sleep apnea.
Causes Of A Deviated Septum
In most cases, a deviated septum is caused by an injury to the nose that knocks the septum out of place. Nose injuries are often the result of car accidents or playing sports. Some deviated septa occur during fetal development.
Symptoms Of A Deviated Septum
As a result of the uneven nasal passages caused by a deviated septum, a patient may have difficulty breathing. Additional symptoms may include:
- Nasal congestion
- Frequent sinus infections
This condition can also lead to facial pain, headaches, and postnasal drip, which can significantly affect the quality of life. A deviated septum may also cause snoring or sleep apnea. Those with only minor displacement may not even be aware of the deviated septum and experience no symptoms at all.
Can A Deviated Septum Worsen Over Time?
A deviated septum can become more pronounced over time simply due to aging. As our tissues lose some of their rigidity with age, the obstruction of a deviated septum may become more severe. A deviated septum can worsen for temporary periods when the person has the swelling and irritation of rhinitis. This can further narrow the nasal passages involved.
Can A Deviated Septum Cause Fatigue?
As with pain, the deviated septum itself doesn’t cause fatigue, but the obstruction it creates can impact your energy levels. A deviated septum is typically linked with fatigue when it causes the patient to suffer from sleep apnea. Fatigue is one of the main symptoms of sleep apnea because sagging tissues can cause airflow to be completely blocked when the person is asleep. The brain senses the lack of airflow and immediately wakes the person, usually with a start. Although the person may not have any recall that he or she was awakened, this can happen dozens of times per night. This creates fatigue the next day due to the disturbed sleep.
Can A Deviated Septum Affect Your Heart?
When a deviated septum is the cause of a person’s sleep apnea, it can definitely impact the health of their heart. Various studies have shown a link between severe sleep apnea and an increased risk of coronary artery disease, heart failure, arrhythmia, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and stroke. Sleep apnea also causes an increase in blood pressure every time the blood oxygen level drops when airflow is blocked. This places strain on the person’s entire cardiovascular system.
When Is Surgery Necessary To Fix A Deviated Septum?
Damage to the septum is either congenital or from trauma. When the septum is damaged or malformed during pregnancy, it can happen when the baby is passing through the birth canal. Traumatic damage may be from a car wreck, singular sports injury, or even from repeated contact from sports such as wrestling. Over time the septum becomes displaced.
The question of needing a septoplasty is a function. Dr. Daneshrad uses a scope to check the deeper tissues of the nose to evaluate airflow.
Minor deviation of the septum may not merit correction, but problematic deviation will reduce airflow. This can impact normal breathing (creating more mouth breathing) and sleep. Plus, the additional exposure of a deviated septum to the drying effect of airflow through the nose can make that side of the nose crust and prone to bleeding. Septoplasty can repair the septum and return normal airflow.
Deviated Septum Diagnosis
To diagnose a deviated symptom, a doctor will perform a thorough physical examination, and review all symptoms. In addition, an endoscopy may be performed. An endoscope and a bright light are used to open up the nostrils and nasal passages, enabling a thorough visual evaluation.
Deviated Septum Treatment Overview
Deviated septum treatment varies depending on its severity and the symptoms it is causing. For most patients, this condition can be managed through decongestants and antihistamines that aim to reduce nasal congestion. For more severe cases, surgery may be required to correct the displacement. Surgery involves a procedure called septoplasty, which repositions the septum in the center of the nose. This procedure is often performed in conjunction with rhinoplasty or nose reshaping surgery, which enhances the appearance of the nose while correcting structural abnormalities. The results of septoplasty are permanent but may take up to a year to become evident because the cartilage and bone of the septum tend to heal slowly.
Many people experience a significant lessening of symptoms post-surgery. Results, however, may vary depending on the severity of the deviation. In some cases, the septum may gradually shift over time, and patients may require a second septoplasty to once again relieve symptoms.
Is A Deviated Septum Painful?
The actual physical structure of a deviated septum, where one nasal passage is smaller than the other or otherwise impaired, doesn’t cause any pain to the person. But the blockage, swelling, and inflammation that can accompany a deviated septum can create facial pain and the tissues can become dry on the side with additional exposure. But in patients with only a minor deviation between the sides of their nose, may not have any pain or symptoms at all.
How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Deviated Septum?
As you would assume, the procedure to surgically address a deviated septum doesn’t have a set price or cost. Dr. Daneshrad adjusts the procedure to the patient’s unique situation.
But a septoplasty is covered by insurance in most cases. That’s because a deviated septum can cause serious problems, including chronic sinusitis and sleep apnea. These are considered to be medically necessary procedures. Your out-of-pocket costs will depend upon your coverage and your provider.
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If you’re interested in learning more about deviated septums please contact us for a consultation at 310.453.6500 or fill out our contact us form. We will discuss your needs and concerns, and determine your best course of action.
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