There are a lot of factor that impact the health of a person’s sinuses — many of them are environmental, having to do with seasonal and temperature changes, the existence of mold or allergens in a living space, or other changes in air quality. But there are also some physical conditions that can determine whether or not someone has ongoing sinus problems.

One of these is a deviated septum. It’s a simple condition, but one that not everybody knows about. A deviated septum can lead to ongoing sinus problems, and often needs to be diagnosed and treated.

What Is a Deviated Septum?

A deviated septum can be present from birth, or it can be caused by traumatic injury. Boxers and those involved in extreme sports are at high risk for this type of condition.

The basis of the condition is simple. The septum is the wall between the two nostrils, and when it is deviated, it means that the opening of one nostril is larger than the other. This deviation can affect the vertical passage of air into and out of each nostril.

Deviated septum can cause nasal blockage, but so can routine nasal swelling. This can make it hard for family doctors or others to pinpoint the exact causes of a given sinus infection after nasal blockage has trapped mucus in the sinus area. However, doctors can do a physical examination to help diagnose a deviated septum.

Symptoms of Deviated Septum

In addition to nasal blockage, deviated septum can be indicated by nosebleeds or pain in the sinus area. Some of those who suffer from deviated septum may have sleep issues, or experience changes to the way they breathe during sleep. Sometimes, someone with a deviated septum can make a lot of noise during the night, and may wonder if they need a sleep apnea aid or some other solution.

Treatment for Deviated Septum

In some cases, the symptoms of a deviated septum can be managed with medications. According to the Mayo Clinic, three main types of medications are commonly used to control nasal tissue swelling and irritation resulting from deviated septum: decongestants, antihistamines, and nasal steroid sprays. Although these medications do not correct a deviated septum, they can help to manage the secondary conditions that may arise. For instance, when someone is only affected by nasal symptoms in a cold and flu season, the medications can help the body through this temporary bout of illness.

In some cases, a deviated septum will require surgery. Corrective surgery for a deviated septum is called a septoplasty. Surgeons may straighten or reposition the septum, and may also combine the procedure with a rhinoplasty, which reshapes areas of the nose.

In other cases, as mentioned, individuals can live with this condition. It all depends on the extent of the condition and how it affects sinus health. Qualified medical professionals can diagnose these issues and provide treatment plans for patients. Patients can ask about any environmental conditions or allergies that could compound their symptoms, or any medications that they are taking that may need to be considered.