Deviated septum: causes symptoms and therapies
Nasal septum deviation is a displacement of the vertical fin which divides the nasal cavity. It affects 80% of american people but usually only serious cases are considered pathological, therefore real evaluations are lower. If symptoms affect breathing it is recommended to take anti-inflammatory or undergo surgery.
1. What is deviated septum?
Nasal septum is made by connective tissue and cartilage and separates the left and right airways in the nose, which are covered by mucous membranes.
When nasal septum is significantly moved to one side, one nasal cavity is wider than the other; depending on its seriousness nasal obstructions and breathing problems can appear. A non-aligned septum can also interfere with nasal drainage that leads to an increase of infections and nasal drip.
Although some cases of nasal deviation are genetic or hereditary it can also arises after injuries or accidents.
Deviated septum can develop during embryonic phase while fetus is still inside the placenta or during birth. A study by Indian researchers led in 2012 noticed that neonatal septum deviation affects 20% of infants; these cases can be connected to birth difficulties and can happen in case of complicated birth (for example a overweight infants).
Congenital septum deviations usually are S o C shaped, are often uniform and generally are located in the front side of the nose. Deviation seriousness can naturally increase or change during growth.
In different stages of life traumatic septum deviations can have irregular shapes, affecting similarly all septum areas and can include fractured or displaced cartilage.
3. Symptoms and Complications
Most common symptoms of septum deviation are: breathing difficulties, chronic sinusitis, infections or inflammations of nasal mucous membranes. Sometimes these symptoms are confused with breathing infections, common flu or allergy; who is affected by less serious septum deviations can notice these symptoms only in the previous cases.
Other symptoms associated to septum deviation are:
- nasal obstruction, often one side is serious than other
- nasal congestions
- chronic sinusitis
- drug resistant sinusitis
- chronic epistaxis
- dryness and crusts in the wider nostril
- loud breathing while sleeping
- facial pain
- nasal drip
- tendency of sleeping on one side, which is often the opposite side of the occluded one
- In serious cases, sleep apnea
Cases of serious deformity can have dangerous effects on infants due to smaller breathing passages and mainly nasal breathing. Complications can be fatal.
It is recommended to consult a doctor if breathing becomes difficult or hard, or if dizziness appears.
There are many other disturbs which causes similar symptoms, such as nasal polyposis, infections and allergies; then an otolaryngologist visit is necessary.
When disturb is suspect, doctor recalls patient’s medical history in order to search for the possibly causes such as injuries, surgical operations and chronic symptoms; then analyses nasal septum using a nasal speculum and a light source.
If deviated septum symptoms are not problematic or dangerous, the therapy is not particularly complex. Indeed, for less serious cases are preferred therapies that use medical devices or just medicines.
Most common therapies consider:
- steroidal nasal spray to reduce inflammations
- nasal dilators
- nasal irrigations
Who is affected by chronic symptoms should reduce exposition to irritant agents such as allergens, which increase opportunities of the appearance of symptoms and their worsen.
Septoplasty is the recommended surgery for worse septum deviation cases. Usually it lasts 1 or 2 hours in local or general anesthesia and it doesn’t leave any abrasion or apparent external changes. Once anesthesia worked off most of the patients can come back home.
In more serious septum deviations available therapies are often invasive and nasal surgery, in addition to septoplasty, is necessary; in these cases damaged septum area can be removed, rebuilt and reinserted.
Most operations are conducted on over 18 patients since during childhood and youth nasal cartilage grows and is constantly modifying itself.
As every surgical operations there are some risks linked to septoplasty and others nasal surgeries due to anesthesia, hemorrhage and infections.