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Ear Nose and Throat

Deviated Septum

What is a nasal septum?

Deviated Septum The nose is divided into two airway passages left and right by a partition made of bone and cartilage (the septum). The septum runs from the tip of the nose to the back of the nose. A healthy septum is straight and divides the nasal passage evenly.

What is a nasal deviated septum?

A deviated septum is a structural deficiency in which the septum is curved, off center, or crooked, resulting in difficulty breathing. A deviated septum can occur naturally or as a result of an injury.

A deviated septum is a common cause of breathing problems. A deviated septum can block one or both sides of the nose making breathing difficult and creating the need to breathe through the mouth.

What are the signs and symptoms of a deviated septum?

Symptoms of a deviated septum include difficulty breathing, nasal congestion, nose bleeds, headaches and an increased risk of sinus infections due to poor drainage. Other symptoms include difficulty sleeping, sleep apnea, snoring, pain, and a loss of smell. If the drainage is blocked it can back up in the sinuses and cause sinusitis.

If you have a deviated septum you may favor breathing through your mouth. Mouth breathing is unhealthy for numerous reasons. It affects the oxygen concentration in your blood and is associated with high blood pressure and heart failure. Mouth breathing decreases lung function and can worsen respiratory illnesses and asthma. Mouth breathing also causes bad breath and dries out the mouth creating the risk of cavities, gum disease, and hoarseness.

How is a deviated septum diagnosed?

A board-certified otolaryngologist at Fayetteville Otolaryngology will review your medical history and symptoms and perform an exam to see inside the nose. A deviated septum is evident on physical examination of the nose.

How is a deviated septum treated?

Medical therapy with decongestants, steroid nose sprays and antihistamines may relieve symptoms in the short term. For permanent relief a minor surgical procedure called a septoplasty can be performed. The surgeon works through your nostrils to repair and straighten the septum.

What is a septoplasty?

A septoplasty is an outpatient procedure performed with general anesthetic. All incisions are made inside the nose, and dissolvable stitches are used. There is no risk of visible scarring.

During your septoplasty, your Fayetteville otolaryngologist will excise or remove excess bone and cartilage and realign the septum. After surgery the nose may be stabilized with splints to keep it in the correct position and to control bleeding. After a few days the splints will be removed.

Pain medication may be prescribed to help with pain and discomfort after surgery. Some temporary numbness in the upper front teeth should resolve within a month or two. Within 3-6 months after surgery the nose should be stable. A septoplasty can cure your symptoms and does not alter the outside shape of your nose.

Schedule a consultation

When you or a loved one has difficulty breathing through the nose and suffers from a deviated septum, contact Fayetteville Otolaryngology to schedule an appointment. Our ear, nose and throat specialists offer compassionate, expert care to help restore your breathing so you can enjoy your life.


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