Few people likely give their nostrils much thought, except when a head cold or other respiratory issue makes breathing difficult. Having a deviated septum can make you more susceptible to congestion by creating unequal air passages through the nose.
When you experience breathing issues due to the structure of your nose, it’s time to visit Alexis Furze, MD in Newport Beach. Dr. Furze is board certified as both an otolaryngologist and facial plastic surgeon, so you’re assured top-quality results that are both structurally and cosmetically effective if your condition requires surgery, which isn’t always the case.
The alternative to treatment, though, is a range of symptoms and complications. Here’s what you need to know about a deviated septum and the problems it can cause.
The structure of your nose
It’s estimated that about 80% of people have less than perfectly symmetrical septums, the flexible divider that separates your nostrils into left and right sides. It’s not an issue for most people, since the septum still allows free passage of air on both sides.
In some cases, though, the deviation from the central line of the nose can be dramatic, severe enough to disrupt the flow of air on one side of your nose. Irregularity of the septum could stem from a congenital condition, or you could suffer an injury to your nose that results in this uneven division.
The route of air through your nose to the throat is complex, with twists, turns, and dead-end passages. This structure works fine when it’s in balance, but uneven airflow contributes to the complications that result from a deviated septum.
Symptoms of septum issues
When you have a seriously deviated septum, even minor congestion creates breathing difficulty, so you compensate with increased mouth breathing. Your nose normally cycles back and forth through nostrils, where one transfers air while the other is blocked.
Later, this condition reverses, a process called the nasal cycle. Most people don’t give this cycle much thought. If you find you’re quite aware of this cycle, and that one side always “works” better than the other, you could have a deviated septum.
Similarly, you may have frequent nosebleeds if the normal function of the mucus membrane through the nasal passages and sinuses is disturbed. You may have facial pain due to pressure buildups, and noisy breathing when sleeping is a common issue.
Complications of a deviated septum
Chronic dry mouth frequently accompanies a deviated septum, since you’re breathing more frequently through your mouth. The nose is designed to humidify incoming air while your mouth is not.
The deforming of the septum can block the entrance to sinus cavities, leading to poor sinus drainage. This creates an environment that supports the growth of pathogens that can infect your sinuses, and with drainage blocked, recovery is often delayed. Chronic sinus infections are common.
Sleep disruptions and obstructive sleep apnea are aggravated by breathing issues. You may only be comfortable sleeping on one side, to maintain air access through the wider nostril.
Your deviated septum is first treated using medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, and steroid nasal sprays to ensure your airways are as wide open as they can be. If these don’t work for you, Dr. Furze will recommend septoplasty, a procedure to relocate the septum when all other causes for your symptoms are ruled out.
There’s no need to live with the issues a deviated septum creates. Contact Alexis Furze, MD by calling his office at 949-205-7745. Dr. Furze and his team will help you breathe easier.