What is Septal Deviation?

The nasal septum is the partition that runs down the inside of the nose and separates the right side of the nose from the left side. It is made up of cartilage in the front and bone in the back. Ideally, it should sit in the middle of the nose so that there is an equal air passage on both sides. However, trauma or anatomical deformities can push the septum to one side.

Causes of Septal Deviation

Septal deviations are usually the result of trauma, but in some cases it is just the way a patient’s nose developed during his or her childhood.

Signs of Septal Deviation

Many times the level of deviation is so slight that a person can live his or entire life without even noticing the deviation. If the deviation is significant enough, however, it can cause many unpleasant symptoms, including:

  • Nasal obstruction
  • Headaches
  • Chronic nosebleeds
  • Sinus infections
  • Congestion
  • Blocked breathing
  • Trouble breathing at night
  • Snoring

Diagnosing a Deviated Septum

Septal deviations can be diagnosed in one of three ways. The first will detect deviations in the front of the nose, while the second and third can detect deviations further back in the nasal passages.


A simple examination will detect deviations that may be in the front of the nose.

Nasal Endoscopy

A nasal endoscopy is performed by sliding a tiny camera mounted on a slender telescope and passing it through the nostrils. This procedure is well tolerated, and although some patients may prefer a numbing nasal spray prior to the procedure, generally an endoscopy can be completed with no special medications at all. This procedure can be performed in the Atkins Expert Sinus Care office.

Low-dose CT Scan

The CT scanner will create a high quality image of the sinus in 20 – 40 seconds, while the patients sits upright comfortably in an open chair. The low-dose CT uses only 10% of the radiation dose used typically with CT scanners, and the procedure can be performed in the office. Learn more about the low-dose CT scan here.

Medical Treatment for Septal Deviation

Medications will not cure a deviated septum, but there are medications that can help ease symptoms caused by a septal deviation.

Allergy Treatment

If allergies are exacerbating the deviation, then patients may benefit from allergy treatment. Treating allergies will decrease the swelling of the lining of the septum and surrounding tissue. Patients will notice less congestion, but it is important to keep in mind that this will not alter or fix the septal deviation.


Medications can be used to ease symptoms. Some options include:

Decongestants (Sudafed, Mucinex-D)
Antihistamines (Allegra, Claritin, Clarinex, Zyrtec, Xyzal)
Nasal steroids (Nasonex, Nasacort, Veramyst, Omnaris, Flonase)
Nasal Antihistamines (Astepro, Patanase)


For patients with severe septal deviations, medications are usually less effective and the patient may ultimately require surgery.

Septoplasty for a Deviated Septum

If medications don’t work to help ease symptoms, then Dr. Atkins can perform a procedure called a septoplasty.


Septoplasty, or septal reconstruction, is a procedure meant to straighten the deviated cartilage within the septum. It is performed as an outpatient procedure and takes approximately 25 – 45 minutes. Septoplasty is performed entirely through the nose, and leave no external scars or brusing after the surgery.

Septal Surgery can be performed on patients of all ages. Dr. Atkins has performed this surgery on children as young as eight years old, and on adults as old as 79.

Recovery Time

Patients generally needs to remain home from work for five to seven days after the surgery. For patients who work from home or do mostly desk work, it is normal to return to work within three or four days.

Although Dr. Atkins will always schedule one office visit the week after the surgery, most patients do not require any follow-up beyond this point.


Patients usually notice a significant improvement in their breathing after surgery. Symptoms such as snoring, chronic nosebleeds, and headaches are significantly reduced.

To learn more about how septoplasty might be helpful for you, please contact us.