Deviated Septum Definition

The septum is the band of tissue that separates your nostrils, ideally making them symmetrical; however, approximately 80 percent of us have a septum that is slightly off-center, according to the American Academy of Otolarynology. If your septum diverts greatly away from the center line of your nose, it is considered deviated.


Some people are born with a deviated septum, while in others, the condition develops following an injury.

Types of Symptoms

In some cases, people never realize that they have a deviated septum because the condition never produces symptoms. In others, symptoms include difficulty breathing due to an obstruction in one of your nostrils, nasal congestion, nosebleeds, frequent sinus infections and noisy breathing while asleep (snoring).


To diagnose a deviated symptom, physicians use a tool called a nasal speculum, which spreads open the nostrils and allows the doctor to see inside your nose. If you have a deviated septum, you will likely need to to visit a otolaryngologist–an ear, nose and throat specialist–who will develop a treatment plan for your condition.


Left untreated, deviated septums have the potential to cause severe headaches or facial pain as well as chronic or persistent sinus infections.


Prescription medications like antihistamines and decongestants are common treatments to manage the symptoms caused by a deviated septum. To actually repair a deviated septum, an otolaryngologist performs a surgical procedure called septoplasty, which repositions your septum to the center of your nose, explains the Mayo Clinic.

Not A Cure-All

Surgery may improve some of problems caused by having a deviated septum, such as nosebleeds and nasal obstruction. However, any accompanying nasal or sinus conditions — such as allergies — can’t be cured with surgery.

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