Your nostrils are separated by a thin wall known as a nasal septum. If this wall moves, one nasal passage becomes larger than the other; this is known as a deviated septum. A deviated septum is usually present at birth or is caused by an injury to the nose. Many conditions can cause an issue in fetal development that results in a deviated septum at birth. Likewise, any number of injuries to the nose can cause the nasal septum to deviate. More often than not, a nose injury is sustained during a sporting event or a car accident. While not causes of a deviated septum, normal aging and swelling of the nasal tissues from a cold or allergies can make a deviated septum worse.
Most deviated septums produce no symptoms; in fact, many individuals do not even know they have one. Nosebleeds, facial pain, noisy breathing while sleeping and trouble breathing may occur. Chronic mouth breathing, due to difficulty breathing through the nose, can lead to dry mouth.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor. At the appointment, your doctor will go through your medical history and perform a physical exam. A lighted instrument called a nasal speculum will be used to examine your nostrils.
Typically, the first line of treatment is a nasal decongestant, an antihistamine or a nasal steroid spray. All of these medications are focused on reducing the inflammation within the nasal passage, but do not fix the problem of the deviated septum.
If your symptoms do not improve with medication, surgery to fix the deviated septum may be needed. A septoplasty reposition is the surgical procedure used to straighten your septum. Some may also require their nose to be reshaped in a procedure called a rhinoplasty. Typically, these two surgeries can be performed at the same time.