Did you know that up to 80% of Americans have a deviated septum? This issue occurs when the bone and cartilage that divides your nasal cavity in two is off-center.
The good news is that this doesn’t cause many problems for most people. In fact, you can have a deviated septum and not know it. But when it’s severe, it can trigger numerous issues, such as:
- Problems breathing
- Noisy breathing, including loud snoring
- Nasal congestion
- Chronic sinus problems
- Facial pain
- Dry mouth
- Sleep apnea
Dr. Vandana Kumra offers ear, nose, and throat disorders solutions at ENT New York on Central Park West at 83rd Street in New York City. If you have a deviated septum, here’s how she can help.
Diagnosing a deviated septum
You can often determine if you have a deviated septum at home by looking at the bottom of your nose. Either lean your head back and peek in the mirror or snap a picture with your phone. If your nostrils look uneven or seem to be completely different sizes, it could be due to a deviated septum.
You can also check for a deviated septum by holding one of your nostrils closed and breathing in and out. Pay attention to how easy or difficult it is to breathe using that nostril. Then, switch sides. Breathing through one or both nostrils can be challenging when you have a deviated septum.
Dr. Kumra can confirm the presence of a deviated septum by examining the inside of your nose with a bright light and special instruments. She could also look at nasal tissue farther back in the cavity to determine the severity of your condition.
Treating a deviated septum
The first step in treating a deviated septum is controlling your symptoms.
Dr. Kumra usually uses medications as an initial course of treatment, like decongestants, antihistamines, and nasal steroid sprays. However, it’s important to note that they only address deviated septum symptoms — like swollen mucous membranes — they don’t cure them.
You can only repair a severely deviated septum with nasal surgery or septoplasty.
During a typical procedure, Dr. Kumra straightens and repositions the septum in the center of the nose. Sometimes, she has to remove portions of tissue before reinserting them into their ideal position.
Once the septum is in place, Dr. Kumra might put a splint on your nose and soft splints or nasal packs inside the nostrils to stabilize the repair. The process usually takes 30-90 minutes, and you can go home the same day.
People who undergo septoplasty usually recover within a few days and resume most activities in about a week. However, it can take several months to heal from the surgery completely — and up to a year or more to see the full benefits.
The good news is that success rates for the procedure are quite high, with up to 85% of people reporting significant improvement.
Is your deviated septum causing problems? Schedule a consultation with Vandana Kumra, MD, to learn more about your treatment options today.