If you’ve ever lived with nasal allergies, you might feel that you took breathing through your nose for granted. Allergies are notorious for causing a stuffy nose, particularly during spring and summer, but they aren’t the only reason for nasal congestion.
Though they can be uncomfortable, most deviated septums have no symptoms. In many cases, though, the symptoms may affect your ability to breathe through your nose. At Florida Ear Nose Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery Center in Orlando, Florida, Wade Han, MD, FACS, and Elvira Livigni-De Armas, Au.D. provide compassionate care to every patient. Here are their answers to some common questions about deviated septums and how they are treated.
How do I know if I have a deviated septum?
Your nasal septum is a strip of cartilage that runs through the middle of your nose, separating your nostrils into paths that stretch into your lungs. As mentioned, deviated septums can often show no symptoms. There are symptoms in severe cases, though, so it’s important to watch for these signs:
- Facial pain
- Noisy breathing while asleep
- Sleeping mostly on one side
- Blockage in one or both nostrils
Dr. Han only suggests treatment in the event that your symptoms are noticeable, or if they’re affecting your ability to breathe through your nose.
How did this happen?
This condition is incredibly common, with some 80% percent of people in the US having some degree of septum deformity. Septum deformities can result from genetics, but also from accidents or blows to the face. Athletes who play contact sports often experience deviated septums. Car accidents and falls can cause a deviated septum as well.
What do I do about it?
If you have a deviated septum, Dr. Han can help you. After an examination, he will recommend treatment based on the severity of your symptoms. For many people, symptoms of a deviated septum can be alleviated by pain relievers. For people living with allergies, Dr. Han may prescribe antihistamines or decongestants.
If conservative treatments aren’t enough to help you breathe normally, Dr. Han can perform a septoplasty. Like the condition itself, septoplasties are also very common, with at least 250,000 procedures performed yearly in the US. If you are in overall good physical shape, a nonsmoker, and have trouble breathing as a result of a deviated septum, you are generally a good candidate.
What happens during a septoplasty?
In addition to being an ear, nose, and throat doctor, Dr. Han is also a plastic surgeon. If your septum deformity gives your nose an unattractive shape, he works with the shape of your face to give you a better cosmetic outcome. Combining the two procedures is very common, and Dr. Han will determine whether or not you are a candidate for both procedures.
A septoplasty is an outpatient procedure that repairs your deviated septum. After you’re sedated, Dr. Han makes an incision inside of your nose, and uses gentle tools to bring your nose back into alignment. He may need to trim or adjust your septum to straighten it. Once it’s set, he closes the incision. Once you’re released, we give you plenty of aftercare instructions.
After a couple of days, your facial swelling should go down. In the weeks following your surgery, it’s important to avoid blowing your nose and strenuous activity. We recommend sleeping on your back and elevating your head to prevent rolling over on your nose. You will need to wear a splint on your nose to help you heal properly and maintain a symmetrical shape.
I might need a septoplasty.
Fully healing from a septoplasty can take up to six months. During this time, your nasal tissues may shift and change a bit, but you don’t have to worry about any major changes in the way that you look. If you’re experiencing symptoms of a deviated septum, call us today at either of our Florida offices for a consultation or book an appointment with us online.