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Drugs may help, but only surgery can correct it.

What causes a deviated septum and what are my treatment options?

“A deviated septum is usually caused during fetal development or as a result of injury to the nose during contact sports or from automobile accidents. It occurs when the thin wall (nasal septum) between your nostrils is displaced to one side. In severe cases, it can block one side of your nose and reduce airflow, causing difficulty breathing. Nasal obstruction can occur from swelling of the tissues lining the nose, deviated septum or both,” says  Maritza Homs, M.D. , a board-certified  Ear, Nose and Throat specialist at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

Dr. Homs points out that you may not even know you have a deviated septum. When symptoms do appear, they can include obstruction of one or both nostrils, nosebleeds, and sleeping on a particular side to optimize nighttime breathing.

Initial treatment of a deviated septum may focus on managing the symptoms of the tissues lining the nose, which may then contribute to nasal obstruction and drainage.

Dr. Homs says any of the following medications may be prescribed:

  • Decongestants to help reduce nasal tissue swelling, helping to keep the airways of the nose open.
  • Antihistamines to help prevent allergy symptoms, including obstruction and runny nose.
  • Prescription nasal steroid sprays to help reduce inflammation and help with obstruction or drainage.

“Medication won’t correct a deviated septum. For that you need surgery. Septoplasty is the usual way to repair a deviated septum. During septoplasty, your nasal septum is straightened and repositioned in the center of your nose. In some situations, surgery to reshape the nose (rhinoplasty) is performed at the same time,” says Dr. Homs .

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Maritza Homs Guilloty, MD

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