Have you ever discovered that you’ve been living with a “defect” in your body for a long time, and you didn’t even know it? It’s quite common. Many of us don’t make that discovery until we experience some symptoms or malfunctioning.
If you visit a snoring doctor and he or she tells you that you have a deviated septum, and that’s causing your snoring, you might be clueless as to what the doctor is talking about!
First Understand What a “Septum” Is
So what is deviated septum? To understand this, let us first understand what a “septum” is. A septum is a wall that divides your nasal cavity into two sections: the right and left nostrils. You can bend the firm front section of this partition, as it is essentially made of cartilage. It is made of a central skeleton covered on each side by mucous membrane.
Ideally the septum should be situated in the center of your nose dividing the nostrils into two halves of equal size. As amazing it may sound, close to 80% of people, however, have their septum displaced, making one nasal passage smaller than the other.
When the septum is situated more on one side, it is called a “deviated septum” – where “deviated” means displaced, or straying to one side. When the deviation is minor, you may not even know that you have a deviated septum. But when the situation is severe, it can actually block one side of your nose, reducing air flow drastically. So a deviated septum can result in breathing difficulty, frequent sinus infections, nose bleeds, nasal congestion and many more problems.
Why Do I Have a Deviated Septum?
A deviated septum may be the result of a birth defect, or may be the outcome of a trauma to the nasal region.
How Do I Know If I Have a Deviated Septum?
As mentioned earlier, most of the time we do not even know that we have a deviated septum, when the deviation is minor. However, you may know that you have deviated septum if you have these following signs and symptoms:
- Breathing difficulties, especially noticeable when you have a cold or suffer allergies that result in your nasal passages to swell and become narrow.
- Nasal congestion or postnasal drip – this happens when mucus cannot flow out of your nose causing it to drip or remain at the back of your throat.
- Facial pain and frequent headaches caused by sinus infections. Such infections can be the result of blocked mucus caused by deviated septum.
- Frequent nose bleeds.
When Should I See a Doctor for Deviated Septum?
If you have blocked nostrils that do not respond to regular deviated septum treatment within 2 to 3 weeks, you need to see a doctor.
How Does a Doctor Diagnose Deviated Septum?
So let’s assume that conditions like chronic sinusitis, snoring, or any of the symptoms mentioned above bring you to your primary care physician. The first question that you would be asked is if you have had a severe trauma to your nose or if you have had a nasal surgery in the past.
After this the doctor would examine the structure of your nose, including the position of the septum. This will involve the use of bright light and a nose speculum, an instrument that gently dilates your nostril. It is used to examine the internal surface of each nostril. In case deviated septum is diagnosed by your primary doctor, you may be referred to a specialist dealing with ear, nose and throat for further treatment.