What is a Deviated Septum?
What is a nasal septum and what are turbinates?
The nasal septum is the wall of cartilage and bone that divides the middle of your nose. The turbinates are the large structures on either side of the nasal septum. The septum and turbinates warm, humidify and filter the air we breathe to protect the lungs from dust and pollen.
What is a deviated nasal septum and what are enlarged turbinates?
A deviated septum occurs when the bone or cartilage that makes up the septum is crooked. Enlarged turbinates (turbinate hypertrophy) are caused by irritation of the turbinates or allergies. These conditions can make breathing difficult, cause snoring, sleep apnea, or sinus infections. You can treat nasal swelling with over the counter and prescription nasal sprays or oral medication.
Was I born with a deviated septum?
Childbirth may cause small fractures in the nasal septum that can become larger as we grow. Any trauma to the nose can cause deviation to the nasal bones and nasal septum. As we age, the shape of the septum may change as cartilage stretches and grows. You may also inherit a deviated septum or twisted nose from your parents.
When do you need corrective surgery for a deviated septum?
Straightening the deviated nasal septum is called a septoplasty. Reducing the turbinates is called a turbinoplasty. These procedures may be necessary when medication and other treatments have failed. The purpose of the procedures is to allow easier breathing, decrease snoring, or to improve sinus function. Dr. Bennett performs the procedure without external incisions, going through the nostrils to straighten the twisted cartilage and bone. The procedures take about an hour at an ambulatory surgery center. General anesthesia is usually required. Patients can go home about an hour after surgery. There is generally a noticeable improvement in breathing one week after the procedure. Breathing will continue to improve over the next 12 months.
How are turbinate hypertrophy and a deviated nasal septum related?
A patient with a deviated nasal septum is more likely to have inferior turbinate hypertrophy. Septal deviation causes turbinate hypertrophy because the structures within the nose tend to grow so that they fill open areas. If your septum is deviated to the right, that creates space for the left turbinate to grow larger. Both a deviated septum and enlarged turbinates can be corrected during surgery.
Is it necessary to pack the nose after surgery?
Dr. Bennett finds that packing the nose is very rarely required. Surgical techniques have greatly advanced in the last 15 years. Today, doctors have a better understanding of how the nose heals . Packing placement and removal can cause trauma to the nasal septum and turbinates and may cause scarring. Packing will not prevent bleeding and may prevent topical decongestants from working.