Numerous people have difficulty breathing through their nose. There are many issues affecting the nose that may contribute including structural issues, infections, allergies, irritants, and growths. One of the most common structural issues is a deviated septum. The nasal septum is the midline partition that divides the right side of the nose from the left. When it is bent, there is less room on one side of the nose than the other side. This makes breathing through one or both sides of the nose more problematic. 

Even though nasal trauma is a frequent cause of a deviated septum, this problem can occur without any trauma. Many of us develop a deviated septum during the growing process of our teenage years. Since this is a structural issue, there is no medication that will change the shape of the septum. Medications, like topical steroids, can reduce mucosal edema and allow for better airflow. However, medications will never straighten a nasal septum. Diagnosing an anterior deviated septum is easily accomplished by examining the nasal cavity and comparing the location of the septum in relation to the surrounding nasal structures on each side. Posterior septal deviations can be more challenging to identify and often require nasal endoscopy. 

Septoplasty surgery is an effective treatment for nasal airway obstruction due to a deviated nasal septum. This is an outpatient procedure with patients usually returning to work within a few days. Incisions are made inside the nose and the deformed cartilage and bone is corrected. Even though trauma can cause the septum to bend again, the end surgical result is a permanent solution to a patient’s issue. This surgery is available at William Newton Hospital in Winfield. 

 

Editorial note: As an ear, nose, and throat specialist, Dr. Stumpe serves as consulting medical staff and surgeon at William Newton Hospital. He holds clinic at the Winfield Healthcare Center on Tuesdays. Those who have comments or story ideas, call (620) 221-2300, ext. 1113, or e-mail marketing@wnmh.org. Visit www.WNHcares.org.

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