Deviated Septum

The septum is the wall of cartilage that separates the nostrils, dividing the nose into two separate chambers. A deviated septum is when this wall isn’t straight. This can result in nasal obstruction which, in turn, may cause congestion, problems with breathing, or nasal discharge.

You may be born with a deviated septum, or it can result from injury, or damage from past treatments.

If you are experiencing symptoms due to nasal obstruction, it’s important to be seen by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist (otolaryngologist).

Why Choose Cooper to Treat a Deviated Septum

The ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists in Cooper’s Division of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery are uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat a deviated septum. Fellowship-trained and with years of experience, our otolaryngologists have the advanced expertise to provide both medical and surgical care.

The Symptoms of a Deviated Septum

The most common symptom of a deviated septum is trouble breathing through the nose, with the problem often worse on one side. In some cases, normal sinus drainage is affected, which can result in repeated sinus infections.

Other symptoms include:

  • Stuffiness, congestion, or a feeling of fullness
  • Dry mouth due to chronic mouth breathing
  • Nosebleeds
  • Noisy breathing during sleep

How a Deviated Septum Is Diagnosed

Your doctor will take a health history of your symptoms and do a physical exam.

  • To examine the inside of your nose, the doctor will use a bright light and an instrument called a nasal speculum that’s designed to spread your nostrils open 
  • Your doctor may also check farther back in your nose using an otoscope, a long tube-shaped scope with a bright light on the tip
  • If needed, a CT scan may also be ordered to get a more detailed look at your nasal structures

How a Deviated Septum Is Treated

Treatment depends on the severity of the nasal obstruction caused by your deviated septum, and your symptoms:

  • Medications such as nasal steroid sprays, decongestants, or antihistamines to may be prescribed to relieve symptoms of nasal obstruction by reducing swelling of the nasal membranes
  • Nasal dilators that help open the nasal passages may also be recommended

If you still experience symptoms despite medical therapies, you may wish to consider surgery, which is necessary to correct a deviated septum:

  • Septoplasty is a reconstructive procedure during which parts of the septum may be removed, or readjusted and reinserted into the nose.
  • Rhinoplasty  is surgery that modifies the bone and cartilage of the nose to change its shape and/or size; sometimes it’s performed at the same time as septoplasty

Contact Us

To learn more about the services available in the Division of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery or to schedule an appointment, please call 856.342.3113.