What Is a Deviated Septum?

A deviated septum is often corrected at the time of a rhinoplasty procedure. The septum is the thin wall between the two nostrils, inside the nose. In essence it’s a wall of cartilage and bone that divides the nose in half. Ideally, the septum should be straight inside the nose allowing the patient to breathe normally through both nostrils evenly. In many cases, however, the septum become slanted or crooked inside the nose making normal breathing a problem and possible blocking one or both nostrils and leading to breathing problems.

Causes of a Deviated Septum

There are many ways a nose can become slightly off center. In some cases, the nose grows quickly during puberty or an adolescent growth spurt and winds off slightly off center. In this case, the septum might just bend to one side or the other as the growth pushes it this way and that.

The deviated septum can also be caused by an accident or sporting injury to the nose or face. In some cases, a deviated septum can be caused at birth as a congenital condition. In fact, very few people actually have a straight septum. While many individuals live with the deviated septum for a lifetime without major concerns, other seek out medical treatment to correct the problem.

Correcting a Deviated Septum

The solution to a deviated septum is to surgically straighten the bones or cartilage so that it is realigned between the two nostrils. This may require clipping of the cartilage or even the breaking and removal of some bone. The surgery to correct a deviated septum, septoplasty, is used to correct conditions that stem from the deviated septum like chronic sinusitis, inflammation or frequent nose bleeds as well as breathing problems. Correcting a deviated septum can correct snoring issues as well.