09 Oct Having Breathing Problems Because of a Deviated Nasal Septum?
Breathing Problems: Nasal septum is the wall inside your nose that partitions the nasal cavity into the left and right nostrils. It is made of a flexible cartridge in the front and bones towards the back. The five structures that the nasal septum is composed of are
- Septal nasal cartilage
- Vomer bone
- Perpendicular plate of ethmoid bone
- Crest of palatine bone
- Crest of maxillary bone
Generally, the septum stays in the midline until the age of seven. Post this age, individuals may develop a condition called ‘deviated septum’, where the nasal septum deviates off the center. Although estimates indicate that 80% of all individuals have some sort of misalignment to their nasal septum and it is okay to have this minor deviation as nobody has a perfect nasal septum, you should never take a deviated septum condition lightly if it is causing significant breathing problems.
Medical treatments for nasal obstruction
Medical treatments such as nasal steroid sprays or decongestant sprays work to shrink the inferior turbinate which is adjacent to the septum. The space between the septum and the inferior turbinate is the major path of airflow in the nose. The sprays do not correct septal deviations but only shrink the inferior turbinates making the nasal airway feel more open. They are also useful in reducing pain and pressure caused by contact points. Nasal sprays and decongestants may bring you a lot of relief but you must restrain from using them more frequently as you can end up with worse nasal congestion conditions. In case these treatments fail to help, it’s time you see a sinus specialist and consider surgery.
Surgery for deviated nasal septum – When is it needed?
Specialists recommend surgery when all other medications and treatments fail to deliver the required relief.
Usually a septoplasty is required when there is:
- Significant nasal septal abnormality
- Nasal Airway Blockage
- Deviated septum impairing sinus drainage causing chronic or recurring sinus infections
How to ensure successful nasal septum surgery?
It is unfortunate that despite nasal surgery, a lot of individuals continue to suffer complications or face recurring sinus problems. In order to avoid such issues, it is important that one must contact expert fellowship trained sinus specialists with the expertise to perform septoplasties of varying complexity. The endoscopic (using a scope and camera) approach performed by fellowship trained sinus experts is far superior to the traditional “open” approach because it allows for superior visualization particularly of superior and posterior septal deviations that are otherwise missed and left uncorrected resulting in persistent nasal obstruction. A good doctor will always do a thorough check-up of their patients, share endoscopic views of their nasal cavities and sinuses, and explain in detail, the procedure they will be following to get rid of the problem. If your doctor does not follow these steps, it maybe time for you to consider a different doctor before you have a bad outcome.
People don’t realize the importance of proper breathing as it is a natural process. We continue to breathe because of our autonomic nervous system, and most people fail to ensure if the body is getting what it needs to maintain optimum health. If you have been facing any breathing issues recently or are facing complications because of previous nasal treatments or surgeries, entrust your care to our fellowship-trained sinus specialists who have the knowledge, skills and expertise to advise you on the best treatment options available and do whatever it takes to get you well again. You can also share your views and experiences in the comments section.