Could you have a deviated septum? The shape of the septum, the wall dividing the nasal cavity into two halves, could be the cause of chronic sinusitis. The ideal septum is exactly midline, and separates the left and right sides of the nose into roughly equal sized passageways.
It is estimated that 80% of people have nasal septums that are somewhat off-center. This is usually not noticeable and causes little to no ill effect. However, if the septum is significantly shifted away from the midline, it can be difficult to breathe through the nose. This deviated or crooked septum can cause trouble with sinus drainage, resulting in frequent sinus infections.
In addition to infections, a deviated septum can also cause:
- Blockage of one or both nostrils
- Nasal congestion, sometimes one-sided
- Recurrent nosebleeds
- Occasional facial pain, headaches, postnasal drip
- Noisy breathing during sleep (in children and infants)
If a person has a mildly deviated septum, they may only have symptoms when they get a cold. In these patients, this respiratory infection triggers nasal inflammation that temporarily amplifies the restricted airflow caused by the deviated septum. Once the cold is resolved and this inflammation subsides, the patient’s symptoms usually resolve as well.
For more extreme cases, your doctor may recommend surgery. This could be a septoplasty, a surgical procedure performed entirely through the nostrils. Because of this, no bruising or external signs are evident. Sometimes a septoplasty may be combined with a rhinoplasty, in which bruising is present and the nasal appearance may be changed. Septoplasty can also be combined with sinus surgery. During these surgeries, badly deviated portions of the septum may be removed completely, or may simply be readjusted and reinserted into the nose.
If a deviated septum is the cause for your chronic sinusitis, relief from this severe disorder can certainly be achieved. Contact your local ENT specialist to plan your course of action.