Deviated Nasal Septum: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options


What is a deviated nasal septum?

The septum is made of bone and cartilage in the nose that separates the nostrils.
Typically, it sits at the center and divides the nostrils evenly. However, in some
people, this isn’t the case. When the septum is off-center or leans to one side of the
nasal cavity, it has “deviated.” Healthcare providers call this a deviated nasal septum.

How common are deviated septum ?

Deviated septums are very common.It is estimated that up to 80% of people have a
deviated septum.

What causes a deviated septum?

  • Trauma: injuries from contact sports, fighting, or car accidents
  • Developmental: Due to birth moulding or unequal growth of skull base and palate
  • Mass in opposite nasal cavity
  • Hereditary

What are the types of DNS?

  • Anterior dislocation
  • C shaped deformity
  • S shaped deformity
  • Septal spurs

What are the symptoms?

Most septal displacements result in no symptoms, and you may not even know you
have a deviated septum. Some septal deformities, however, may cause the following
signs and symptoms:

  • Obstruction of one or both nostrils: This blockage can make it difficult to
    breathe through the nostril or nostrils. Nasal obstruction can occur on the opposite side due to swelling of tissues called turbinates. You may notice this more when
    you have a cold or allergies.
  • Nosebleeds: The surface of your deviated nasal septum may become dry,
    increasing your risk of nosebleeds.
  • Facial pain. A possible cause of one-sided facial pain could be a severe deviated septum in which surfaces within the nose touch and cause pressure.
  • Noisy breathing during sleep: Sometimes it can be associated with snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea.
  • Headache
  • Sinusitis: Inflammation of sinuses
  • Preference for sleeping on a particular side. Some people may prefer to sleep on a particular side to optimize breathing through the nose at night if one nasal passage is narrowed.

How is a deviated septum diagnosed?

Healthcare provider will begin by asking questions about your symptoms. They will
perform a  physical exam , including a close examination of your nose by examining
with a bright light into your nostrils.

A diagnostic nasal endoscopy (DNE) may be performed to visualise the posterior end
of septum.

How is a deviated septum treated?

For most cases, treatment is not necessary. For a severely deviated septum,
SURGERY is the common treatment option. Other treatment options are available.
They don’t resolve a deviated septum, but they can lessen the symptoms that
accompany it.

  • decongestants
  • antihistamines
  • nasal steroid spray


If your symptoms do not improve with medication or other treatment attempts, your
doctor may suggest a reconstructive surgery called septoplasty.

Preparation: To prepare, you should avoid taking medications such as aspirin or
ibuprofen for 5 days before the surgery. These drugs may increase your risk of
bleeding. You should also stop smoking, as it can interfere with healing.

Procedure: Septoplasty is performed under anesthesia. You may receive local or
general anesthesia. During the procedure, a surgeon operates on the septum and
takes out excess cartilage or bone. This straightens the septum and your nasal passage.
Silicone splints may be inserted in each nostril to support the septum. Then the
incision wound is closed with sutures.

What complications can happen?

Septoplasty is generally a safe procedure for most people who can go under
anesthesia. The risks that remain include

  • temporary numbness in upper gums and teeth
  • septal hematoma (collection of blood)
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • mild change in the shape of the nose in some cases

A deviated septum may not cause any issues and may not require treatment. In some
cases, a deviated septum can lead to other complications. These include sleep apnea,
snoring, congestion, difficulty breathing, infections, or nosebleeds. Severe cases may
call for surgery. If you have a deviated septum that may need treatment, discuss your
options with your doctor.

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