The nasal septum is a wall of cartilage and bone that separates one nostril from the other from the front to where the nostril ends in the pharynx, it is firm but can flex and is covered by skin with many blood vessels, normally this structure is straight and allows two symmetrical nasal cavities for the normal passage of air through the nose. If the septum is noticeably off-center it is called a deviated septum.
What is a deviated septum?
A deviated septum is the condition in which the nasal septum is significantly off-center or crooked, making it difficult to breathe. People have some kind of imbalance in the size of their airways, most of them unknowingly have some kind of misalignment of their nasal septum.
Only the most serious imbalances cause significant breathing problems and require treatment. Some people are born with a deviated septum, but other people develop a deviated septum after an injury or trauma to the nose.
Its causes and symptoms
In people with a deviated septum, one side of the nose is wider while the other is narrower, this alters the pattern of air flow entering the nose and sometimes the narrow side of the nose becomes blocked. In some cases, sinus openings may be blocked, which triggers an infection of the sinuses called sinusitis, which can be chronic or recurrent.
Some people are born with a deviated septum because the nose developed that way before birth, however the cause of a deviated septum can be an injury to the nose during birth. Although the septum can deviate due to trauma, and adults and adolescents often cannot remember the injury that caused the problem.
In most cases, probably a blow to the side of the nose, often during contact in sports, recreational games, or a traffic accident, where the person struck the nasal septum and detracted it.
Signs of a deviated septum
Among the most common symptoms of deviated septum are nasal congestion with one side of the nose congested more than the other, along with a shortness of breath, recurrent or sudden sinus infections can also be a sign of a deviated septum, nosebleeds, facial pain, headache, postnasal drip, and noisy breathing at night.
Sometimes the symptoms of a deviated septum can be relieved with medication, but if medication alone does not provide relief, a surgical procedure called a septoplasty may be necessary to repair a crooked septum and improve breathing.
During septoplasty, a surgeon makes a small incision in the septum and then removes the excess bone or cartilage required to equalize the room for maneuver in the nostrils. Sometimes a rhinoplasty, or "nose," is combined with septoplasty to improve the appearance of the nose. This procedure is called septorinoplasty, septoplasty can also be combined with breast surgery.
In some cases, a person with a slightly deviated septum has symptoms only when they have a cold or other upper respiratory infection, the respiratory infection causes inflammation of the tissues of the nose, which can make the airflow problem worse. As the cold goes away, the symptoms go away.
After reviewing the symptoms, the doctor will evaluate if there has ever been a fracture or serious injury to your nose and if you have already had a nose surgery, with a nasal speculum, an instrument that gently opens your nostrils to inspect the inner surface of each nostril.
If your nasal septum is causing you bothersome bleeding, repeated sinus infections, or other major problems, then you will be referred to an ear, nose, and throat specialist otolaryngologist or a plastic surgeon for treatment.
You can help prevent the deviation of the septum if you avoid injuring your nose, using the seat belt whenever you go by car, and also wear a helmet to protect your face during sports, in the case of football you should also be careful contact with the ball in that area of the face.
If you have a blocked nostril or sinus infection that does not respond to treatment after two to three weeks, call your doctor immediately if you had a blow to your nose and you think the blow may have moved your septum out of place.
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