We take normal activities like breathing, seeing, and smelling for granted. They are the basic and important functions of the body. The nose is made up of many components and the septum is also a part of it. Imagine the discomfort if every time you breathe there is sound or you feel your nose is congested at all times. It can make day-to-day activities difficult including sleeping.
We might think it might be allergies or a sinus infection but it could be something else entirely. It can be the deviated septum causing all the issues and you might need a deviated septum nasal surgery or septoplasty treatment to get the much-needed relief.
What does the septum do?
The septum is actually a very thin wall inside the nose. It is made up of bones and cartilage and does the job of dividing the left and right nostrils. It also helps in keeping the breathing function normal.
In an ideal situation, the septum should be lined straight but a little deviation in it is normal. But when the deviation is way off the center it is called a deviated septum. Many things can cause the septum to become crooked or displaced such as genetics, sports injury, and direct or indirect trauma to the nose.
In children, a deviated septum is caused because of injury in childbirth. Many people mistake long-lasting injuries for allergies or an issue of sinus. In reality, the number one cause of nasal obstruction is a deviated septum. It also causes stuff or runny nose in most cases.
Deviated septum generally does not cause many problems and most people go through their life without even knowing about it. But sometimes the deviation can be enough to seriously affect the quality of your life.
Deviated septum can be on one side or on both sides of the nasal passage at different points. The crooked septum has many symptoms such as
- Stuff nose on one or both sides of the nose: Deviated septum can make it difficult for a person to breathe properly especially when they are suffering from a cold or have an allergy. The nasal passages restrict because of swelling and hinder the regular air flow.
- Nosebleeds: this happens because the deviated septum can become dry and cause crusting and bleeding in the nose.
- Trouble breathing through the nose: It might feel that the airflow inside is forced.
- Pain in the facial area especially around the cheek bones: This is very noticeable when you press the nose or the sides of it.
- Mouth breathing especially when doing strenuous activities
- Sinus infections that happen too frequently and don’t get relief from regular medications
- Snoring and noisy breathing when sleeping.
- Poor sense of smell
- Higher occurrences of nosebleeds.
- Awareness of the nasal cycle i.e., you will more aware of the feel of breathing.
- Preferring to sleep on one side: People suffering from deviated septum tend to prefer sleeping on one side to optimize breathing through the unobstructed side.
- Runny nose: The extra air on one side of the nostril dries out the lining of the nose and body’s response kicks in to make more mucus which causes a frequent runny nose.
How do I know if I have deviated septum?
The cartilage that makes up the septum is a flexible one and sometimes even what seems like minor injuries can change the shape of the cartilage. Injuries in the childhood also affect how the septum grows as the child grows. Sometimes it is easier to spot a deviated septum because of the change in the shape of the nose. The best person to diagnose a deviated septum is an ENT doctor.
When to seek deviated septum treatment?
An untreated and severely deviated septum can cause many other issues such as
- Difficulty in breathing because of the deviation in nasal cavities which can further cause inflammation and infection.
- Tooth decay and even bad breath
- Dry mouth because of the need of breathing though the mouth
- Disturbed sleep cycle which also causes dark circles
- Frequent nosebleeds.
You should also go and see the doctor if you have a blocked nostril that is not responding to any standard medications.
Deviated septum treatment
When you visit the surgeon for a consultation, he will do a physical examination to check for the deviated septum. The otolaryngologist will use a special instrument to open the nostril and a telescope or endoscope to look deep in the nose and check for the deviation in the septum.
The surgeon will also collect your medical history and document if you ever had any injuries in the past. The treatment of deviated septum depends on the severity of the condition. The first line of the treatment of deviated septum is to manage the inflammation and swelling in the nasal cavity and reduce the dryness.
Using these treatments also helps reduce further issues such as nasal polyps, chronic sinus and other chronic nose conditions. Otolaryngologists use the following medical treatments
- Treating the allergies and asthma: Managing the symptoms of seasonal allergies, inflammation and swelling in the nose can be a great help. Avoid the triggers of allergies.
- Nasal corticosteroids sprays: Spraying them in the nose can help improve the drainage from the nose and even reduce the swelling in nasal passage. They can be used daily with the doctor’s advice.
- Decongestants: They are used to reduce the swelling in the nose and open up the airways. They are available in pill and spray form. Use them as directed by the physician because using them regularly for more than few days can cause other issues such as dependencies, high sugar and blood pressure etc. and eventually stop being effective.
- Antihistamines: The aim to reduce the symptoms of the allergies and prevent runny and stuff nose. They can however make you drowsy and reduce the ability to drive or life weights.
Septoplasty or the surgical treatment for deviated septum
In order to get a permanent relief from deviated septum the treatment is a Septoplasty surgery. It becomes necessary when the medication is not able to provide the much needed relief. The structural issues cannot be treated with conservative treatment. The treatment starts with medications for a few months so see if the patient gets any relief. However, if the problem is very severe, the otolaryngologists might recommend a surgery directly.
Septoplasty is a traditional method of correcting the deviated septum. In the basic procedure the nasal septum is repositioned and straightened so that it sits in the middle of the nose. The septal correction is done using various methods such as cutting the part of the septum, using septal extension grafting, bony grafting etc.
The treatment for deviated septum can be using two approaches
- Endoscopic in which the surgeon approaches the septum from inside the nose. This process works well for mild septum deviations.
- External or open approach: This surgical technique is used in severe deviations and gives the surgeon a better view of the internal structure of the nose and offers better flexibility.
The results will help you reduce the severity of the condition and help breathe better. An experience surgeon will ensure that the deviated septum treatment does not alter the shape of the nose to maintain the aesthetics. However, allergies and other injuries can still impact the tissues in the nose post-surgery too.
Septoplasty is an outpatient surgery and takes about 1 hour to perform. You can go home on the same day of the surgery. There are no bones broken and your nose will not be in the cast.
Septoplasty can be combined with other procedures if needed or desired by the patient
- Cosmetic rhinoplasty to alter the shape, size and tip of the nose.
- Sinus surgery
- Turbinate removal procedure
- Nasal valve repair
- Sleep apnea treatment using endoscopic treatment.
Combining with other treatments can increase the cost of deviated septum treatment in India but the benefit is in terms of recovery time which is same for the septoplasty or other procedures done along with it.
Recovery after Septoplasty
Recovery starts the day the procedure is done. You can notice the relief in symptoms in just 3-4 weeks post the surgery. And in just three months you will be able to see the full results and notice what a game changer the surgery has been for your life. You should take about a week off from work to make sure that the recovery is full and safe.
- In the first week of the surgery the surgeon will call you in for a regular inspection and clean your nose periodically.
- Stay away from exercising for a couple of weeks post the procedure
- Don’t blow your nose till everything is healed.
- Bleeding and crusting inside the nose are common and you need to just follow the prescribed medications to get the relief.
- Avoid touching or bumping into your nose
- Do not pick, or scratch inside the nose
- Avoid wearing clothing that need to be pulled over the head and cause a pull on the nose
- Keep your head elevated while sleeping.
You can also help along the recovery by
- Using a humidifier inside the house to prevent the drying of lining of the nose.
- Use saline rinses not reduce inflammation and keep the nasal passages moistened.
- Quit smoking all together: Smoking delays healing and gives severe symptoms to the deviated septum.
Deviated septum surgery cost in India
The results of deviated septum surgery are permanent and continue to improve even after a year of the surgery as the natural healing response of the body kicks in. The cost of septoplasty varies by the experience and location of the surgeon, the complexity of the septoplasty, the techniques used (scalpel or lasers), and the hospital charges.
Most insurance companies cover a part of the deviated septum surgery cost in India. This is the medical part which makes the surgery necessary to reduce the symptoms. Cosmetic procedures are not covered by insurance which will affect the cost of septoplasty in India.