Jason Hamilton (Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon) gives expert video advice on: How do I know if I have a deviated septum?; What treatments are available for my deviated septum? and more...
What is a "septum"?
The septum is the cartilage and bone that separates the nose into two halves. The anterior portion of the septum is made up of cartilage, and the posterior portion, or the back portion of it, is made up of bone. Typically, the septum is in the middle, and causes no obstruction, but some patients have a septal deviation that actually blocks their breathing, either in one side of their nose, or the other.
What is a "deviated septum"?
A deviated septum is a portion of the septum, either the cartilage or bone, that is pushed to one side or the other. And the deviation usually causes a blockage of airflow through that side so the patient experiences obstruction and difficulty breathing through the nose.
What should I do if I think I have a deviated septum?
If you think you have a deviated septum and you're experiencing obstruction, you should probably see your physician to see if anything can be done. Typically your physician will treat you medically with a nasal decongestant such as Flonase or Nasocort which helps you kind of shrink the nasal passages and allow maximum airflow through your nose. If that fails, then you may need surgery to correct the deviation of your septum and improve your breathing.
What treatments are available for my deviated septum?
The typical treatments for deviated septum are medical and surgical. The medical treatment involves a decongestant in the nose to maximize the amount of air that can get past the obstruction. Typically this helps maybe 50% of the patients. Other measures that can be used are Breathe Right strips that are placed over the nose and kind of expand the nasal passages. If both of those methods fail, then typically patients will need a surgery to correct the deviated septum, which is referred to as a septoplasty, where extra cartilage and bone is removed and redraped, so that the nose is now straight on the inside. It doesn't affect the way the nose looks on the outside, and it's pretty minor surgery that's done as an outpatient, and recovery is pretty quick.