A deviated septum is a well known factor causing nasal obstruction in people. However, many patients with a deviated septum will also state that there are times when they can breathe just fine from their nose. As such, can a deviated septum truly be the cause of their nasal obstructive symptoms? Shouldn’t the obstruction be constant?
The blunt answer is ABSOLUTELY nasal obstruction can be intermittent OR constant with a deviated septum!!! It’s more a question of degree.
To begin with, a deviated septum is when the wall that separates the right and left nasal cavities is bent one way (green arrow in left illustration) instead of being perfectly straight (right illustration).
If there is no mucosal swelling, a person with a deviated septum is able to breathe from both sides just fine. However, if there is the slightest bit of mucosal swelling from turbinate hypertrophy, allergies, upper respiratory infection, or any other environmental irritation, the side that is more narrow will obstruct much more readily with less swelling given there is just “less room” for swelling to occur before obstruction occurs.
Below is the same exact nose and septum as above, but with mucosal swelling present. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Fauquier ENT Blog*