Why Choose Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Deviated Septum Treatment?
The medical professionals at Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital have vast experience in the surgical treatment of a deviated septum. With years of practice, they will help you alleviate the symptoms associated with this condition. By virtue of the state-of-the-art technology our hospital is equipped with, you will experience a fast recovery with minimal risks of postoperative complications. Furthermore, you will receive the treatment you need in a calm and compassionate environment, as we always strive to create a comfortable atmosphere for our patients.
The wall of cartilage that divides the nose into two separate chambers is medically known as the septum. When it is shifted away from the midline, the septum is deviated, which causes one nasal air passage to be smaller than the other. This can lead to difficulty breathing and recurring sinus infections.
In severe cases, a deviated septum can block one side of your nose and thereby reduce airflow. Moreover, the exposure of a deviated septum to the dry air you breathe in can sometimes contribute to crusting or bleeding in certain people. Lastly, a deviated septum can cause a nasal blockage or congestion due to the swelling of the tissue that lines the nose. For this reason, numerous people with a deviated septum seek treatment for their condition if it is severe.
If the deviation of your septum is not severe but causes you to experience bothersome symptoms, the doctor may prescribe you medication to alleviate these symptoms. The medication that is usually prescribed to patients with a deviated septum includes:
- Decongestants: The purpose of decongestants is to reduce the swelling of the nasal tissue and keep both of your airways open so that you can breathe with more ease. Decongestants come in the form of a pill or a nasal spray. However, it is important to use the nasal spray as rarely as possible, as it can cause dependency and a worsening of your symptoms if you stop using it abruptly.
- Antihistamines: These medications, which are used to prevent the symptoms of allergies, are often given to people with a deviated septum since their allergy symptoms will be significantly worse than those of people who do not have this condition. Antihistamines help alleviate symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose. Moreover, they can reduce the symptoms of nonallergic conditions such as those that are caused by a cold. It is worthy of note that certain antihistamines cause drowsiness and can thereby affect your ability to perform tasks that require physical coordination, such as driving.
- Nasal steroid sprays: Nasal corticosteroid sprays can reduce the swelling of your nasal passages and help with drainage. However, it usually takes one to three weeks for this medication to take maximum effect, which is why it is essential to follow the instruction of your doctor when using it.
Surgery is necessary for people with a septum that is severely deviated, as this is the only way to correct it. The surgical procedure employed to correct a deviated septum is known as septoplasty. During septoplasty, your septum is straightened and repositioned in the middle of your nose, where it should have normally been. The procedure may require the surgeon to cut and remove certain parts of your septum before reinserting the cartilage in the correct position. While surgery for a deviated septum will make symptoms such as nasal obstruction disappear, it will not cure allergies and the symptoms associated with them. In certain cases, rhinoplasty may be performed along with septoplasty to reshape your nose in order to achieve the best result possible. Rhinoplasty entails the surgeon altering the bone and cartilage of your nose to change its shape or size.
Symptoms of a Deviated Septum
Although the majority of people with a deviated septum do not experience symptoms and may not even be aware that their septum is deviated, those whose condition is serious may experience the following:
- nosebleeds: because the surface of your nasal septum may become dry, the likelihood of bleeding is higher
- obstruction of one or both nostrils: the blockage of one or both nostrils can make it difficult for you to breathe and you may notice a worsening of your symptoms when you have a cold or allergies that cause your nasal airways to swell and narrow
- facial pain: some people with a severely deviated septum experience pain in their faces, which is the result of the surfaces within your nose touching and causing pressure
- noisy breathing while sleeping: whether it is the cause of the deviated septum per se or of the swelling of your nasal airways, noisy breathing during sleep is another symptom of a deviated septum
- awareness of the nasal cycle: while it is normal for the nose to be obstructed on one side, then on the other, people are not usually aware of the nasal cycle unless they have a severely deviated septum
- sleeping on a particular side: some people with a deviated septum prefer sleeping on a certain side to make breathing easier if their nasal passage is narrowed
Other symptoms of a deviated septum are difficulty breathing through the nose, stuffiness, congestion, a feeling of fullness, impaired normal drainage from the sinuses, and recurrent sinus infections.
Diagnosis of a Deviated Septum
When diagnosing a deviated septum, your doctor will first assess your health history and subsequently conduct a physical exam. They will ask questions about the symptoms you experience or about a potential injury that could have caused your septum to become deviated. The physical exam may be conducted with the aid of a handheld tool, medically known as a nasal speculum, which will help the physician gently open your nostrils. Your doctor may also use a small lighted scope to look into your ears or nostrils. Finally, they may also employ nasal endoscopy to thoroughly examine the inside of your nose. This procedure is conducted by using a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached that is inserted into your nostrils. If necessary, your doctor may also order a CT scan of your nose to be able to determine the precise extent of your problem.
There are two main causes of a deviated septum, namely you are either born with it or it becomes deviated due to a serious injury to your nose. It may also stem from damage from past treatment on your nose. In some cases, a condition present at birth causes a deviated septum, which occurs during fetal development and is noticeable at birth. Serious injury to your nose can also result in a deviated septum, which may happen during contact sports, wrestling, or car accidents.
It is worthy of note that over time, the deviation of your septum may worsen, as during the aging process nasal structures are considerably affected. Furthermore, the swelling or irritation of the nasal cavities or sinus cavities may also worsen the narrowing of the nasal passages in people with a deviated septum. The risk factors for a deviated septum are playing contact sports such as rugby, soccer, or ice hockey, as well as not wearing your seatbelt when driving or riding in a car.
If you have a deviated septum that is causing you to experience distressful symptoms, you may want to try alternative treatments before undergoing surgery, whose purpose is to alleviate your symptoms. The following are some of the most effective alternative treatment approaches for a deviated septum:
- Nasal strips: These are small adhesive strips that you place over your nose. Nasal strips contain bands that help lift the sides of your nose away from the septum, thereby opening your nasal passages. They are usually placed over the nose at night to prevent noisy breathing during sleep by people with a deviated septum. You can purchase nasal strips from a regular pharmacy.
- Nasal irrigation: During nasal irrigation, you rinse the inside of your nose with saltwater. This can help reduce congestion, as well as boost the effectiveness of the tiny hairs that line your nostrils so that they will clear up mucus faster. There are also nose and sinus rinses available to buy at pharmacies and also nasal irrigation devices, which are known as neti pots, that you can purchase to perform nasal irrigation at home. However, it is essential to regularly disinfect the device to avoid the risk of infection. The water you use for nasal irrigation needs to be sterile as well, as the nasal passages are very sensitive.
- Vaporizers and humidifiers: These devices increase the moisture of the air you are breathing and are ideal for people with a deviated septum who experience bothersome symptoms. While vaporizers heat water to create steam, humidifiers produce a cool mist. It is important to dry out the room you are using the vaporizer or humidifier in on a regular basis, as too much moisture in the air can lead to the growth of bacteria, mold, and dust mites. The device you are using also needs to be cleaned regularly.
- Taking a hot shower: Because a hot shower creates steam, similarly to a vaporizer or a humidifier, it will help reduce the congestion of your nasal passages.
- Avoiding irritants: A very important aspect to keep in mind if you have a deviated septum is to avoid irritants that can worsen your symptoms, such as pollen, dust mites, paint fumes, household chemicals, and perfumes. There are numerous irritants that can lead to nasal congestion, as well as allergic reactions. For this reason, you need to make sure no irritants are present in the space you inhabit.
Although people who are born with a deviated septum cannot prevent the condition, people who are at risk of having their septum deviated as a result of a potential injury need to be careful when playing contact sports and also when they are driving or riding in a vehicle. This is the only way you can avoid the deviation of your septum if you do not already have this condition.