A deviated septum occurs when the thin wall (nasal septum) between your nasal passages is displaced to one side. In many people, the nasal septum is displaced — or deviated — making one nasal passage smaller.

When a deviated septum is severe, it can block one side of your nose and reduce airflow, causing difficulty breathing. The additional exposure of a deviated septum to the drying effect of airflow through the nose may sometimes contribute to crusting or bleeding in certain individuals.

 Nasal obstruction can occur from a deviated nasal septum, from swelling of the tissues lining the nose, or from both.


Most deformities of the nasal septum cause no symptoms, but occasionally the symptoms may be one or more of the following, especially if the deviation of septum is severe:
Obstruction of one or more nostrils
Noisy breathing during sleep
preference of sleeping on one side due to easing of symptoms
Deviation of nasal septum may be caused by :
It may be present at birth as a deformity, or
It may be caused by injury to the nose, which may result in the septum moving to one side. Normal aging can worsen septal deviation with time.
Deviated septum can cause a number of minor complications, such as
  • dry mouth due to chronic mouth breathing
  • congestion in nasal passages
  • disturbance of sleep


DNS is diagnosed with the help of a good history and physical exam. Physicians may insert a speculum into the nose to examine it better with the help of light.Initial treatment of a deviated septum may be directed at managing the symptoms and may include the following

  • Decongestants. Decongestants are medications that reduce nasal tissue swelling, helping to keep the airways on both sides of your nose open. Use nasal sprays with caution, however. Frequent and continued use can create dependency and cause symptoms to be worse (rebound) after you stop using them.
  • Antihistamines. Antihistamines are medications that help prevent allergy symptoms, including obstruction and runny nose. They can also sometimes help nonallergic conditions such as those occurring with a cold.
  • Nasal steroid sprays. Prescription nasal corticosteroid sprays can reduce inflammation in your nasal passage and help with obstruction or drainage. It usually takes from one to three weeks for steroid sprays to reach their maximal effect, so it is important to follow your doctor’s directions in using them.
 Medications only treat the swollen mucus membranes and won’t correct a deviated septum.

Surgical repair (septoplasty)

If you still experience symptoms despite medical therapy, you may consider surgery to correct your deviated septum (septoplasty).

Septoplasty is the usual way to repair a deviated septum. During septoplasty, your nasal septum is straightened and repositioned in the center of your nose. This may require your surgeon to cut and remove parts of your septum before reinserting them in the proper position.

The level of improvement you can expect with surgery depends on the severity of your deviation. Symptoms due to the deviated septum — particularly nasal obstruction — often completely resolve.


Reshaping your nose

Dr. Annie

Physician, mom and wife

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