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Deviated Septum : What Causes Septal Deviation and How to Fix it?

Where is the Nasal Septum Located?

The nasal septum is the barrier separating the cavity of nose into two parts; it is made of middle sustaining skeleton and enclosed with mucous membrane from each side.

What is a Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation?

What is Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation?

The deviated septum or septal deviation can be seen when the delicate wall (nasal wall) of nose between the nostrils is displaced to any side. In many cases, it has been seen that the wall of nose dislocated or different which causes the nasal entrance shorter.

When a deviated septum or septal deviation is serious, it is capable enough to obstruct any side of one’s nose and lessen the airflow which leads to breathing problem. The effect of dryness in air flowing through nose is another revelation of deviated septum which causes the encrustation and loss of blood in some people.

Nasal blockage can happen from these abnormal displacements from inflation of the tissues covering the nose or from either of the two. The therapy to cure nasal blockage may cover medications to lessen the inflation or sticky strips that may assist in clearing the entrance of the nose. For betterment of this displacement of nasal wall, operation is compulsory.

What Percentage of the Population Has a Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation?

If one has this kind of problem, it means one’s septum is deviated and hence the name deviated septum or septal deviation. Otolaryngologists (specialized doctors of eye, ear, nose and throat or ENT) say that the nasal wall is inaccurate to some extent in more than 80 percentage of the people.

Causes of Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation

A deviated septum or septal deviation generally happens when the thin wall in between the right and left passages of the nose is displaced to a single side. The causes of deviated septum could be:

  • Some people are born with a deviated septum. It may occur in the child present in the womb and can be apparent during the birth.
  • Any injury caused to the nose causing deviation of nasal septum in the nasal wall. Children are more prone to such dislocations as they remain tender. Even from the collision of two persons such dislocation may happen. It can be seen during sports, accidents, heavy labor works etc.

As the body grows older, the structure of the nose tends to get affected even more and creates a worst situation. The swelling in the nasal tissue is recorded to increase as the rhinitis or rhinosinusitis increases with age. Thus it causes acute nasal blockage as the nasal passage becomes narrow due to the dislocation.

Signs and Symptoms of Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation

In most cases of deviated septum or septal deviation there is almost no indication of any sort. The person sometimes may even not know about the occurrence of this dislocation in his or her body. Some deformations however have the following indications to make:

  • There could be blockage in any or both of the nostrils. Breathing trouble is noticed in such persons as the dislocation obstructs the air to pass in through the nostrils. During cold or any other sort of allergy, the nasal passage is seen to increase in size and block the air to get in to the lungs.
  • Bleeding of nose is another important symptom. As the surface of the nose is dried there are chances of bleeding from the nose.
  • Sometimes the sufferer goes through facial pain due to the contraction in the nasal passage. It could be on any or both sides of the face.
  • A nasal dislocation causes a noisy breathing during sleep. The intranasal tissues swell up and lead to such noises.
  • The nasal cycle is another symptom of the nasal septum in human body. As one side of the nose experiences a blockage, the other side becomes active in the breathing. This is one of the clear indications in this situation.
  • Some people have habit of sleeping on any particular side. They experience free flow of air during sleeping on that side. This is nothing but due to the nasal wall dislocation that makes the nasal passage narrow.

Consulting a Doctor at the Right Time for Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation

Do not waste time and visit your doctor soon if you experience the following:

  • The blockage of the nostril if not responding to any medicine or treatment at home.
  • Nose bleeding at a frequent interval.
  • Repeated sinus infection.

Risk Factors for Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation

A deviated septum or septal deviation could be seen in people from their birth, in some people it occurs due to any accident or collation with any external objects. The factors of risks here include:

  • Sports of human body contact.
  • Driving cars or other motorized vehicles without wearing the seat belt.

Complications for Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation

Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation when ignored and not treated properly may lead to the followings:

  • Dryness in the mouth as most of the air is inhaled thorough mouth.
  • Congestion in the air passage of the nose.
  • An interrupted sleep due to the noisy breathing and congestion. The body tends to run out of oxygen and suddenly there are severe sleep disturbances.

Tests to Diagnose Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation

As you go to see your doctor he will first ask you about the symptoms of you are suffering from. A nasal speculum is the device which the doctors usually use to examine your inner part of the nose under bright light. A tube-shaped long scope is also used under the bright light to examine the internal nose carefully. The doctor usually sprays a decongestant spray in to the nose before and after the examination.

Based on such tests, deviated septum or septal deviation is finalized and its seriousness is also determined. If the doctor is not an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) specialist, he may refer to you one for further consultation and treatment.

How to Fix Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation?

The Managing of Symptoms of Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation in the Initial Period

The treatment for deviated septum or septal deviation may start with treating the apparent symptoms of the problem including the tissue lining in the nose leading to the drainage obstruction in the nose. The doctor may follow the below mentioned medications for deviated septum or septal deviation in the beginning:

  • A decongestant may be prescribed to reduce the swollen nose tissue. It helps to open the nose properly and let air to enter through both holes. Decongestant is available in both spray and tablet form. However, both of them should be taken as per the doctor’s advice and dosage. Any discrepancy can lead to growth of dependency on the decongestant and affect the heart rate or the blood pressure.
  • During initial treatment, doctors usually also prescribe antihistamines to overcome the nasal allergies. Some antihistamines have greater effect on the body and make it drowsy. Activities like driving should be avoided under such circumstances.
  • On many occasions doctors prescribe nasal steroid sprays to reduce the inflammation in the nasal passage. It is advised to follow the doctor’s guidance and instructions strictly on this to avoid any unwanted consequence.
  • It should be well noted that medications can only fix this problem temporary and not with a permanent solution.

Septoplasty (The Surgical Repair of the Nose) for Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation

Septoplasty is the common surgery for the correction of deviated septum or septal deviation when there is no effective change is noticed with the medication.

It is the most common way to repair any dislocation in the nasal wall of small or big type. The nasal wall is usually straightened during septoplasty and it is repositioned to the center of the nose. This may include in the surgical reduction of the nose wall to put it in the right position.

Surgeries have been mostly successful in curing the deviated septum or septal deviation and giving the person a problem free breathing. All sorts of nasal obstructions are almost recovered through surgery. However the sinus conditions are not treated with surgery which may exist in the person due to the tissues lining in the nose.

Reshaping the Nose for Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation

Rhinoplasty is often performed along with septoplasty to reshape the nose for deviated septum. It modifies the nose bone and cartilage and resizes it.

Recovering from Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation After Septoplasty

Septoplasty is usually an outpatient surgical procedure for deviated septum where the patient can go back to home on the same day. It does not take much of time and the patient is released once the effects of anesthesia are off. The nose remains swollen and bandaged with cotton due to bleeding. However it is removed within two to three days of the surgery.

It is advised to limit the physical activity of the patient after the septoplasty surgery and give more time to the nose to reduce the swelling and ultimately heal. Vigorous sports during the healing period may increase the pain in the patient and the recovery time is increased.

Follow the below mentioned tips for a steady recovery from deviated septum or septal deviation:

  • Keeping the head elevated during sleeping to reduce the swelling.
  • Do not blow your nose.
  • Wear shirts with buttons or zips so that it does not require to be pulled of above the head.

The nose will recover soon after the septoplasty surgery. But the overall healing will take some more time. This time is required for the cartilage and other nasal tissues to come in order and settle in a new position and this may take up to a year. The breathing however will improve soon after the surgery, but the overall healing will be gradual.

Prevention of Deviated Septum or Septal Deviation

The following precautions could be taken to save yourself from the deviated septum or septal deviation. However the ones from the birth could not be avoided.

  • Wearing proper sports gear, including helmet to protect the nose during body contact sports.
  • Wear the seat belt while driving.


  1. Cleveland Clinic – Nasal Septum: What Is It and Why Is It Important?
  2. MedlinePlus – Deviated septum
  3. WebMD – Deviated Septum
  4. American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery – Deviated Septum

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 4, 2023

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