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The nasal septum is a flap of cartilage dividing the nose in half. Do you breathe through one nostril better than another? You probably have a deviated septum.
Normally, air enters through the nostrils, goes up the nose and eventually down the trachea (windpipe) and into the lungs. When the septum is deviated, air flow is disrupted. It can no longer take a straight path and is more likely to encounter mechanical obstruction along the way.
This causes those suffering from a deviated septum to exert more force in order to draw air in. Breathing is normally done involuntarily because the lungs require a constant influx of fresh oxygen. When you have to make a conscious effort to maintain it, it becomes a disruption to everyday life.
Imagine the congestion you have with a runny, clogged nose. Having a deviated septum feels something like that but with no respite. Lying down can make breathing even more difficult. This leads to loss of sleep and in more extreme cases, a form of sleep apnea in which breathing completely stops during sleep. If you have a deviated septum, it’s likely you wake up throughout the night in an effort to get more comfortable.
A deviated septum creates a perfect storm for facial pain and migraine headaches. Decreased oxygen flow to the brain, irritation of blood vessels, congestion of sinuses and lack of sleep all contribute to frequent headaches. These headaches are often located around the temples and the forehead.
Regular breathing not only oxygenates the blood vessels but creates a warm, moist environment allowing mucus to function normally. Mucus and nasal hair cells brush away bacteria and keep the nasal passages relatively clean and clear. Congestion, clogged mucus and turbulent air create a weakness in the system that can allow bacteria to thrive. This leads the way to frequent colds, worsened congestion and even more trouble breathing.
Due to the fact that you have to exert more force in order to breathe through a deviated septum, air entering the nose is more turbulent. Over time, this causes dryness of the internal surface of the nose and dry flakes of mucus. When the flakes tear off, this causes bleeding inside the nose. If you experience nasal dryness and frequent nose bleeds, your nasal septum may be deviated, and as such, you should contact a sinus doctor as soon as possible.
If you live in the Houston area, learn more about deviated septum treatments that we can offer.