Does a Deviated Septum Cause My Sinusitis?
Chronic sinusitis is often the result of a deviated septum. Along with the painful symptoms of sinusitis, various other unpleasant problems are common, including snoring, bad breath, and nosebleeds.
What Is a Deviated Septum?
The septum is the wall which separates the nasal cavity into two chambers: the nostrils. The wall is comprised of bone and cartilage, and the delicate structure can be easily damaged.
A deviated septum is the misalignment of the separating wall between the nostrils. Ideally, the septum is at the midline of the nose, with two nostrils of equal size, allowing sufficient airflow into the lungs through each nostril.
Breathing Problems Leading to Sinusitis
When the septum is deviated, one nasal passage becomes smaller than the other which can lead to an array of physical problems such as difficulty breathing or ongoing facial pain.
For some, the deviation is mild and goes undetected until the symptoms of a cold appear. For others, it is a severe blockage of one side of the nose and the symptoms are constant, typically worsening with a cold, leading to severe congestion and extreme discomfort.
How Does a Deviated Septum Cause Sinusitis?
When one nasal passage has become smaller or blocked, it will prevent adequate drainage of the sinus mucus into the nasal cavity where it is expelled. This excess accumulation of mucus fosters and harbors bacteria which can lead to swollen blood vessels and sinus infections. Occurring repeatedly over time the condition becomes chronic, with a negative impact upon daily life.
How Does a Deviated Septum Affect Quality of Life?
Are you embarrassed by frequent nosebleeds? Do you sleep in a separate bedroom because your snoring keeps your loved one awake? Do you often cancel plans because you experience severe, recurring headaches? These may be symptoms of a deviated septum.
Symptoms of a Deviated Septum
It is estimated more than 80% of the adult population has a deviated septum to some degree and many are simply unaware they have the condition. If any of these symptoms sound familiar, you may have a deviated septum, the root cause of the ongoing pain and discomfort:
- Recurring sinus infections
- Frequent headaches
- Post nasal drip
- Sleep apnea
To rule out nasal allergies, nasal polyps, and other possible causes, a thorough examination of the nose structure should be performed by a qualified Ear, Nose and Throat specialist.
How Does a Deviated Septum Occur?
There are generally three causes for a deviated septum:
- Physical trauma
A deviated septum occurring during fetal development may be an inherited family characteristic or a genetic condition. In some cases, the dislocation of the septum is present at birth, but may be diagnosed later in life when the unpleasant and painful symptoms develop.
The physical impact of nasal compression during childbirth can shift the septum wall. Other injuries sustained in contact sports, car accidents, trip or slip, and fall accidents, or in rough horseplay can lead to damage of the septum wall.
The aging process naturally alters facial structure and features, often affecting the nasal passages. Over a lifetime, the delicate tissues are subject to numerous changes, such as swelling from chronic respiratory infections or impacts on the tissues due to allergies or polyps.
Restoring Healthy Breathing with a Septoplasty Procedure
Rhinoplasty is a procedure to reshape the nose, commonly referred to as a nose job, and is considered a cosmetic procedure. To correct a deviated septum, a septoplasty is performed to adjust the nasal structure for better alignment and is a necessary procedure for the patient’s health.
For some patients, the two procedures are performed in one surgery. It is not uncommon for a patient to have both a deviated septum and aesthetic surgery to improve or correct nose appearance, both of which can be resolved in one surgery.
Relief from a Deviated Septum
Once correctly diagnosed as a deviated septum, relief comes in two forms: Short-term or long-term.
The temporary route offers medications to alleviate the symptoms of either the pain and pressure of congestion, drainage, or inflammation. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, medications are available through prescription or over-the-counter.
Medications treat only the swollen mucous membranes and not the underlying cause, so it’s important to consider the side effects when making a decision about your future health. Some of the common side effects of these medications include:
- Feeling jittery
- Elevated blood pressure and heart rate
- Poor physical coordination
The most effective solution for a deviated septum is a non-invasive septoplasty procedure. The goal is to straighten and reposition the nasal septum into the midline position, creating equal air flow through the nostrils. The least invasive treatment for sinusitis is a procedure called a balloon sinuplasty. This procedure can be very effective in reducing the number of sinus infections and alleviating the severity of symptoms.
Either treatment may reduce or eliminate the dependency of “band-aid” measures from over-the-counter medications, and restore the quality of life and better health.
At the Los Angeles Sinus Institute, Dr. Zadeh is focused on performing the most advanced, innovative treatments and technologies and performing the safest and least invasive procedures, minimizing risk, and speeding recovery time. He is arguably the top ENT Los Angeles has to offer.