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Deviated Septum ˌdē-vē-ˌāt-əd-

By Marvin P. Fried, MD, Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Usually, the nasal septum is straight, lying about in the middle of the two nostrils. Occasionally, it may be bent (deviated) because of a birth defect or injury and positioned so that one nostril is much smaller than the other. Most people have some minor deviation of the septum so that one nostril is tighter than the other. A minor deviation usually causes no symptoms and requires no treatment. However, if severe, a deviation may block one side of the nose, making a person prone to inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis—see Sinusitis), particularly if the deviated septum blocks drainage from a sinus into the nasal cavity. Also, a deviated septum may make a person prone to nosebleeds because of the drying effect of airflow over the deviation. Other symptoms may include facial pain, headaches, and noisy night breathing. Doctors can usually see the deviation during an examination. A deviated septum that causes breathing problems can be surgically repaired.

* This is the Consumer Version. *