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TriStar Centennial Medical Center
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mins

Deviated Nasal Septum

Definition

The nasal septum is the wall that separates the left and right nostrils. A centered septum allows air to flow equally through each nostril. In a deviated nasal septum, the wall is not centered.

A deviated septum may cause no symptoms at all. In severe cases, airflow through one or both nostrils may be blocked. A blocked nostril may cause chronic stuffiness and a tendency to get sinus infections.

Deviated Septum
IMAGE
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

Causes include:

  • Congenital (present at birth)
  • Birth injury to the nose
  • A blow to the nose, often during an accident or while playing sports

Risk Factors

Trauma is the most common risk factor. Contact sports, such as karate or football, increase the risk of trauma.

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • Stuffy nose—one or both nostrils
  • Nosebleeds
  • Breathing noisily during sleep
  • Facial pain or headache

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done, paying special attention to the nasal passages.

Treatment

Most people will not require treatment. In severe cases, surgery may be needed. Surgery on the septum alone is called septoplasty . It relieves nasal blockage by centering the septum between the 2 nostrils.

Sometimes surgery to reshape the nose (rhinoplasty) is performed at the same time. The 2 procedures together are called septorhinoplasty. Children who need surgery usually wait until they have stopped growing, around age 16.

Prevention

To help prevent a deviated septum:

  • Wear seat belts in automobiles and airplanes
  • Wear appropriate protective headgear when playing sports

Revision Information

  • American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery

    http://www.entnet.org

  • Health Finder—Department of Health and Human Services

    http://www.healthfinder.gov

  • Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery

    http://www.entcanada.org

  • The Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons

    http://www.plasticsurgery.ca

  • Fact sheet: deviated septum. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/?q=node/1406. Accessed February 17, 2015.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. TriStar Health does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.