Having a deviated septum is a condition that paves the way for multiple additional problems. Those problems are not limited to only your breathing and the feeling of stuffiness in your nose and nasal area; they can also affect how you sleep and how much (or little) rest you get from it.
When your septum is crooked, the airways don't have the optimal space to allow air to freely flow. As if this wasn't enough, the deviation can complicate your sinuses (leading to postnasal drip), stimulate the swelling and inflammation of the tissue inside the nose (especially when allergies strike), contribute to frequent headaches, nosebleeds, and facial pain. Multiple medicines are available to help, but when you're dealing with a serious case, surgery is usually the best bet to feel well again.
Sleep apnea is a condition where the quality of your sleep is reduced, either because there are obstructions to the free flow of air in the throat and nose, or because your brain has trouble sending the adequate signals to control your breathing patterns.
In the first case, the effect of gravity over your body when you're lying in bed, coupled with septal deviation and the relaxation of tissues in the throat (which sometimes can lead to the unintentional obstruction of the airway), lead to problems in breathing. Sometimes you will suddenly stop breathing and resume a while later.
This irregularity reduces the oxygen levels in your body which can lead to memory problems, moodiness, low concentration, and even brain damage, If you suffer from this condition you feel very tired every day, even if you spent eight or more hours in bed.
Before you address the deviation of your septum, there are some measures you can take that will improve the quality of your nights. If you have the habit of sleeping on your back you need to change to a prone or side-sleeping position, as sleeping on your back causes the collapse of tissue in the throat area, leading to longer periods of apnea.
To train yourself for this change, you can sew a tennis ball to the back part of the shirt that you use to sleep, so that every time your body tries to go back to that familiar position, the ball will gently nudge it back to the correct spot.
There are other ways to tackle the issue, including elevated mattresses, pillows, bedside breathing pumps, oral appliances and more. These tools can give you an easier time as you start preparing for having your deviated septum corrected.
Read on to understand how your deviated septum interacts with sleep apnea.
Can a Deviated Septum Cause Sleep Apnea?
While having a deviated septum is not the number one condition that enables sleep apnea - it is a wider collection of facts such as sleeping position, turbinate shape, sinus performance, as well as position of the jaw and throat tissues - it is one of the major reasons why you can't breathe well at night. Your body prefers breathing through the nose, as the air comes into your body, is warmed, moisturized, and purified in the right way to be easier on your lungs.
When your septum has a deviation, the airflow in each nostril could be different or, in extreme cases, both could have very limited space. To further complicate the issue, since this condition enables other problems such as sinusitis and allergies, the tissue inside your nose gets larger, leading to more blockage.
If pulling air through your nose is difficult, your body has to make a greater effort to get the oxygen it needs. When you couple a deviated septum with sleeping on your back, then each taking breath can be a tremendous task as you're always grasping for air at night. This means that you don't get all the oxygen you need to repair your body and you're not reaping all the benefits of sleeping well. In the long term, it could lead to very serious heart and brain problems.
Can Fixing a Deviated Septum Cure Sleep Apnea?
Having surgery performed on your septum to correct the deviation is a way to greatly improve the quality of your breathing at night. It is a very decisive step to curing sleep apnea, though some other tools and/or treatments might be required to completely recover.
The good news is, even if you experienced moodiness, lack of concentration, low memory, and brain damage in the past as a result of sleep apnea, correcting your septum and restoring your breathing capacities will not only treat these issues, it will also reverse some of the damage caused; it's not only going back to your old self, it is also feeling better than you used to feel.
What is Involved in Deviated Septum Surgery for Sleep Apnea?
It is vital that you start sleeping well as soon as possible, as it is a critical body function to maintain your wellbeing. Here are the steps you can take to seek treatment:
- 1Make a shortlist of 3 to 5 doctors that you think are the best;
- 2Consult your medical insurance company to ensure how much they are willing to support you with, and also if they have an agreement set with the doctors you pick. Make sure if there is any pre-approval process for any of the procedures performed by your doctor;
- 3Schedule a meeting with each doctor, expose your situation, do the required exams, and try to know more about the doctor's experience and past patients. Some doctors may be more suited to treat your unique case than others;
- 4If you need more information about your doctor, you can do a Google search and see what other patients are saying in medical review websites;
- 5Once you choose the best doctor for the job, he or she will take you through the examinations and procedures to prepare for surgery;
- 6The surgery itself lasts up to one hour and a half under local or general anesthesia, and you will be able to go home on the same day;
- 7Patients report mild to moderate pain during the recovery process. You can expect to be fully recovered in one to two months;
After you've completely recovered, you'll find that you have a much easier time breathing. In time, your mornings will be more energetic because you're resting much better than you used to. This surgery is relatively simple when compared to other more intrusive ones and yet it can have a huge impact on your quality of life. So, what are you waiting for? Say goodbye to those tiresome nights and start taking the steps to get all the rest you deserve.
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