The thin wall between the nostrils made of bone and cartilage is called the nasal septum. In the case of a deviated septum, this wall appears crooked or displaced to one side. A deviated septum may be present at birth, become crooked during growth, or may be caused by an external injury to the nose or the face.
When the septum extremely deviates towards one particular side, it causes one nasal passage to be bigger than the other. In severe cases, it can result in reduced airflow and difficulty in breathing.
A significant percentage of people do not have a perfectly straight septum. A deviated septum may be genetic or inherited, or may also be caused by an injury or trauma. A deviated septum can while the fetus is still in the womb, and also during the birthing process. A study conducted in 2012 in India found that about 20 per cent of the newborns were affected by the neonatal deviated septum. These were commonly seen in babies who had a larger birth weight and those who experienced difficult deliveries. In such cases, the person’s spetum will be smooth and have an S or C shape. The extent of deviation may increase or change naturally with age.
Deviations caused due to injury or trauma later in life usually have an extreme angle and are irregular in shape.
A deviated septum may not always result in any symptoms in some people. But when it does, the most common symptoms are:
Nasal congestion on one side of the nose more than the other.
A deviated septum can be diagnosed by a physical examination with the help of bright light and an instrument known as nasal speculum which helps visualize the nasal septum. Sometimes, an endoscope might be required for further examination of the nasal passage. Occasionally, a CT scan may also be used to view the extent of the deviation.
In many instances, people with deviated septum do not require any treatment. However, in cases where treatment becomes necessary, the following options are resorted to:
A person should see the doctor if he/she has the following symptoms or conditions:
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