The septum is a thin wall inside your nose that separates your nostrils, made of a combination of small bones and cartilage. As it is made of tissue that has some flexible properties, it is prone to be deviated for a wide number of reasons, either because of direct trauma to the nose, congenital defects, genetic problems or just the effect of body changes over time.
80% of the population in America has a deviated septum, with cases ranging from minor deviations, where problems are solvable with medication, to major ones where more serious measures need to be undertaken. Having this morphological problem means that other conditions such as sinusitis, allergies, rhinitis, and symptoms associated with colds and the flu will be amplified, take longer to heal, and be more uncomfortable to bear.
7 Signs That You Might Have a Deviated Septum
Difficulty breathing through the nose
Since the septum is not centered, it might be occupying more space than ideal and increasing your effort to breathe properly through the nose. When you close your mouth, do you feel difficulty breathing? Do you have to pull the air in hard to fill your lungs? Does the air make a noticeable sound as you breathe in?
You can take a self-test to determine if you have a deviated septum by closing one of your nostrils with one finger and breathing through the other. Pay attention to the effort required and the amount of air that you get. Now repeat for the next nostril. Is the airflow uneven? Do you have an easier time breathing through one nostril more than the other?
If you have a major deviation, it might be possible to see it in the mirror, as the exterior of your nose can be crooked. If you raise your head in front of a mirror and then look down at the entrance of your nose, you might be able to notice that the middle part isn't straight.
The third option for detecting major deviations is holding your septum with your index finger and thumb. Gently move these two fingers side to side and you might feel the extent of the deviation.
A quick note: these are very simple tests that have no medical value. They can help you see if you have a deviated septum or not, but ultimately only a doctor can tell if you have a deviation and how serious it is.
Nasal congestion usually happens as a combination of the unfavorable shape of your septum and the swelling of tissue. There wasn't a lot of space to begin with, and when the tissues start to enlarge the nasal airways can get completely blocked, contributing to that stuffy nose feeling and stopping your breathing in one (or sometimes even both) nostrils.
A solution to ease the swelling is taking decongestants and, in case of allergies, antihistamines. If these medications don't help a lot, then your septal deviation might be serious and need other kinds of intervention.
Recurrent sinus infections
Your sinuses are responsible for producing mucus that moisturizes the nose, protecting it from dust, dirt and harmful micro-organisms in the air. A deviated septum might interfere with the drainage capacity of your sinuses, leading to serious infections. If you have a lot of sinus infections during the year it might be because of your septum.
As a result of the septal deviation combined with the limited sinus effectiveness, the inside of your nose might be drier than usual. When the air passes at speed through the inside of your nose, it can tear the skin inside, leading to frequent nosebleeds. If you bleed from your nose every now and then, then a deviated septum might be the culprit.
Breathing properly at night is very important for the quality of your rest. If you have a hard time breathing, your body won't get all the oxygen it needs to repair itself. When we sleep, our body prefers breathing through the nose unless it is completely blocked. If you have a deviated septum, you will make a bigger effort to breathe, and will not get all the necessary air.
These conditions coupled with the relaxation of tissues and the effect of gravity over your body as you lie in bed contribute to your breathing suddenly stopping at night to resume a while later, frequently due to blockage in the nose and throat area.
If your nights don't repair you as they should, it could be a sign of a deviated septum.
Since the air doesn't flow easily inside your nose, the act of breathing creates pressure in your nose area. This pressure is also felt in the channels where the air flows through inside your head (known as turbinates). If you feel this pressure for an extended period of time, especially coupled with other symptoms such as allergies or sinusitis, it will start creating a headache, further complicating your condition.
If your headaches start with nasal pain and breathing difficulty, look to your septum for the cause.
The mucus inside your nose, as we've discussed above, is very important to keep your nose functioning well. However, if you have a deviated septum, and if it is affecting your sinus drainage as well, things could get complicated.
Usually, the mucus drips harmlessly down the back part of your throat, but because of your septum, it might thicken and start building up, As a result, it will accumulate inside your nose and throat, leading to this post nasal drip.
We hope this list gave you more knowledge about the signs that you have a deviated septum. If you've been suffering from these symptoms for a long time, and medication hasn't completely made the situation better, then you should consider seeing a doctor to determine if you have a deviated septum and how big is the deviation.
The surgery procedure is not very complex: it takes up to one hour and thirty minutes, you'll be out of the hospital on the same day and be completely recovered in one to two months time. The big plus? You will have a new, functional nose that will improve the quality of your breathing and the quality of your life.
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