If you've been having trouble breathing through your nose, or if you get frequent sinus infections, you may be worried that you have a deviated septum. This article will give a brief overview of the symptoms to help you determine if you may be suffering from the condition.
A “septum” is a divider wall inside a body cavity made of bone or cartilage. The “nasal septum” is such a divider inside the nose. When there is a deviated septum, the nasal septum is displaced or crooked. The result is one nasal cavity is larger than the other, affecting airflow.
A very common cause is from blunt force trauma to the face, most often the result of sports injuries or car accidents. However, it is not uncommon to be born with a deviated septum. In fact, 80% of people's nasal septums are off center. Most people do not notice a problem, and live their lives normally. In some cases, though, aging will cause a natural deterioration of the cartilage causing problems later in life.
Blocked Nasal Passages
The primary symptom would notice is difficulty breathing through the nose. In general, because the septum is crooked, one nasal passage will be freer than the other. Often a cold or sinus infection where there is congestion will make this symptom most noticeable. To test for this, simply close one nostril with your finger and breathe deeply. Listen to hear if there is more blockage on one side or the other. In some cases, both sides are not clear.
Often a deviated septum will cause the surface of the septum to become dry, causing frequent nosebleeds.
If the sinuses are not allowed to drain properly, sinus infections may occur. The result being inflammation of the mucus membranes. If you experience frequent sinus infections, they could be an indicator your septum is displaced.
Headaches, Postnasal Drip
Suffering from frequent headaches or postnasal drip can be associated with a sinus infection, or independently related to the deviated septum.
Most often found in those who have a deviated septum from an injury, facial pain may be a symptom. The septum may be pressing against the outside wall of the nose.
Noisy Breathing During Sleep
This symptom is almost exclusively found in infants and children. It is not referring to mere snoring. Snoring occurs when the soft tissue in the throat slides back and blocks the airway. The oxygen struggles to get through the smaller opening and vibrates the soft tissue, causing snoring. When related to a deviated septum, the noisy breathing is located in the nose.
When to See a Doctor
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, especially pain or frequent nosebleeds and sinus infections, you should see an ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor. He or she will be able to determine the cause of your symptoms, be it a deviated septum or something different, and help you find the right treatment.
For more information on sinus conditions , contact an ENT near you. If you are in Georgia, Atlanta sinus specialists can help answer your questions.
Sinus Center of Atlanta