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Common Causes of a Deviated Septum

If you have a deviated septum, you may not be aware of it, but this condition can cause ongoing nasal and sinus issues.

In this blog, board-certified ear, nose, and throat specialist Dr. Cecil Yeung of Houston Sinus Surgery at the Yeung Institute shares the common causes of a deviated septum.

What is a deviated septum?

Your septum is the wall of cartilage and bone that separates your two nostrils. Ideally, the wall is straight and divides your nose into two equally sized nostrils.

In most people, however, it’s somewhat crooked or off-center (deviated). It’s not usually severe enough to cause problems, but in some cases, it can interfere with breathing and cause ongoing congestion and sinus infections (sinusitis). If it’s severe enough, it can even affect the outward appearance of your nose.

What are the symptoms of this condition?

This condition can cause the following signs and symptoms:

  • Obstructed breathing – Breathing through your nose can become difficult, especially if you have a cold, allergies, or sinus infection that causes your nasal passages to become inflamed.
  • Nosebleeds – The surface of your septum can become dry, which increases your risk of getting nosebleeds.
  • Facial pain – A severely deviated septum can affect the inside of the nasal wall and cause facial pain.
  • Headaches – A sharp spur of bone is possible with a deviated septum, and if it touches the nasal wall, it can cause headaches.
  • Chronic sinusitis – This condition is characterized by a sinus infection that lasts longer than 12 weeks despite attempts to treat it. It’s more likely to occur if you have a septum that causes mucus to build up in your sinuses and nasal passages.
  • Post nasal drip – Usually mucus drips harmlessly down the back of your throat, but a deviated septum can cause the mucus to build up and thicken. It may feel as though it’s dripping down the back of your nose or accumulating in your throat.
  • Nasal deformity – In cases of a severely deviated septum, the outward appearance of the nose can be altered.

What are its common causes?

The following are common causes of a deviated septum:

  • A congenital condition – Sometimes this condition occurs while the fetus is still developing.
  • An injury – A blow to the nose – even one that didn’t seem serious at the time – can cause your septum to become deviated.
  • Aging – Aging can cause it to develop or worsen.

What are the treatment options?

Symptoms can sometimes be improved with conservative treatments such as decongestants, antihistamines, or nasal steroid sprays.

If conservative treatments aren’t effective enough, surgery may be needed to correct your septum. This procedure – known as a septoplasty – allows a surgeon to remove excess bone or cartilage to straighten your septum.

The procedure is performed entirely through the nostrils, so you’ll have no swelling or bruising on the outside of your nose. Your nose won’t need to be packed with gauze, since bleeding will be minimal, and no nasal bones will need to be broken as part of this procedure.

After your septoplasty, you can usually return to work after 5 to 7 days.

If you’re experiencing nasal congestion, make an appointment today with Houston Sinus Surgery at the Yeung Institute. Dr. Yeung has over 20 years of experience and is double board-certified as an ENT and facial plastic surgeon. If a septoplasty is needed, you can receive all of your care at our office and our on-premise state-of-the-art surgery center.

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