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Home > Services > Ear, Nose and Throat > ENT Conditions > Deviated Nasal Septum

Deviated Nasal Septum

The nasal septum is the wall that separates the left and right nostrils. A centered septum allows air to flow equally through each nostril. The wall is not centered in a deviated nasal septum.

A deviated septum may cause no symptoms at all. In severe cases, airflow through one or both nostrils may be blocked, which may cause chronic stuffiness and sinus infections.

Deviated Septum

Deviated Septum

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Causes of A Deviated Septum

Causes include:

  • Present at birth — arose during fetal development
  • Birth injury to the nose
  • A blow to the nose, often during an accident or while playing sports

Risk factors for acquiring a deviated septum include:

  • Contact sports, especially karate or football without appropriate protective headgear
  • Trauma to the nose

Symptoms of A Deviated Septum

Symptoms include:

  • Stuffy nose (one or both sides)
  • Sinus infections
  • Nosebleeds
  • Breathing noisily during sleep
  • Facial pain or headache

Deviated Septum: Diagnosis & Treatment

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. Your doctor will examine the nasal passages using a nasal speculum to hold the nose open and a thin telescope that's passed into the nose.

Most people don't require treatment. In severe cases, surgery may be needed. Surgery on the septum alone is called septoplasty. It relieves nasal blockage by centering the septum between the two nostrils.

Sometimes surgery to reshape the nose (rhinoplasty) is performed at the same time. The two procedures together are called septorhinoplasty


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Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.


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