​Deviated Nasal Septum

The nasal septum is the bone and cartilage between your nostrils dividing the nasal cavity in two halves. As the name implies, in people with a ‘deviated’ nasal septum, the division of the nasal cavity is not uniform as the septum is significantly off-centre or crooked. Thus, the displaced septum affects the shape of your nasal cavities, and can block one side of your nose, which reduces airflow and affects breathing. 

Ideally, the nasal septum should be exactly midline so that both the left and right nasal passages are of the same size. However, it is estimated that approximately 80% of the people have misaligned nasal septum, mostly unknowingly. 

It is when the nasal septum is severely misaligned that complications with breathing arise. Nasal obstruction can also occur in the affected nasal passage due to inflammation of nasal tissues, which requires immediate medical attention. The displaced septum also affects the drainage of mucus from the sinuses, leading to recurring sinus infections.

Trauma or injury to the nose can displace the nasal septum, leading to this disorder. In other cases, a deviated nasal septum is a congenital disorder, which means some people may be born with a misaligned nasal septum or it may be the result of birth trauma.​

Imbalance in breathing passages due to displacement of the septum can lead to various problems, the most common one being nasal blockage, especially on one side of the nose. Besides that, you may also encounter difficulty breathing, particularly if there is obstruction in the affected nasal passage due to inflammation of nasal tissue. In some cases, the deviated nasal septum is more exposed to airflow through the nose because of the misalignment, leading to aggravated dryness and nosebleeds. 

In general, the following are the symptoms encountered with a deviated nasal septum:​

  • Difficulty in breathing.

  • Frequent sinus infections due to difficulty in drainage of mucus from the sinuses.

  • Nasal obstruction and congestion, usually on one side in the affected nasal passage, accompanied with a feeling of pressure in the nasal passages.​

  • Facial pain.

  • Headache.

  • Dry mouth due to frequent breathing from the mouth.​

  • Drainage of mucus into the throat.

  • Disturbed sleep.

  • Breathing loudly while sleeping or snoring.

  • Mild or severe loss of ability to smell.

In very serious cases of deviated nasal septum, one may also suffer from sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which you can experience pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. This can even lead to you preferring to sleep on one side rather than the other to make it easier to breathe while sleeping.

It is common for a deviated nasal septum to go unnoticed until pain is experienced. If you suspect that you may have deviated nasal septum, consult an ENT (Eye-Nose-Throat) specialist working with the Eye and ENT Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital to get an expert medical opinion and guaranteed quality health care.​

As mentioned, many people may have deviated nasal septum without even knowing it. It is when the signs and symptoms of this disorder become very serious and persist for very long that a visit to your doctor becomes necessary.

If you have frequent breathing problems, repeatedly suffer from sinus infections and nasal congestion, or you have trouble breathing while sleeping, you must consult an ENT specialist at The Aga Khan University Hospital to get expert medical advice. A deviated nasal septum that interferes with breathing and affects a normal lifestyle must not be ignored.​

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

To diagnose a deviated nasal septum, your ENT (Eye-Nose-Throat) specialist working with the Eye and ENT Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital will ask you questions about your symptoms. He/she will then conduct a physical examination using special instruments to examine the inside of your nose.

The first line of treatment for deviated nasal septum is medications to help relieve the symptoms. Some medicines that your doctor may prescribe to you include:

  • Antihistamine medications.

  • Decongestant nasal sprays.

  • Pain relievers.

  • Nasal steroid sprays.

However, you must understand that medications cannot correct a misaligned nasal septum but only provide relief from the symptoms. In order to correct the displacement of the nasal septum if symptoms persist or worsen over time, a surgery will be required.

The surgical procedure conducted to fix a deviated nasal septum is called a Septoplasty. This surgery can be performed mostly under general anaesthesia and aims to correct the position of the septum to even out and improve airflow through the nasal passages. 

Before the surgery, your doctor will advise you about avoiding medications that thin the blood. In most cases, you will be able to go home the same day or by the next day, depending on what your doctor seems feasible. Your nose will be swollen and packed with gauze to control the bleeding. This will be removed within a day after the surgery.

Certain precautions will also be recommended to ensure speedy and complete recovery after your surgery. For example, you will be asked to elevate your head on a pillow while sleeping, not to blow your nose and not to pull clothing over your head for a few days after the surgery. Intense physical activity must also be avoided for a few weeks after the surgery as it can increase blood pressure and lead to heavy bleeding.

Depending on how severely your nasal septum was out of position, your level of realignment and improvement will vary. Symptoms related to a deviated nasal septum, such as nasal obstruction, will be cured. However, if there are any symptoms related to other accompanying disorders, such as allergies, surgery will not be able to cure those.​

Before the procedure, feel free to discuss your concerns about the surgery and other treatment options in detail with your doctor at The Aga Khan University Hospital, who will provide you with expert medical advice based on your individual symptoms.​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.​

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments' costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

To diagnose a deviated nasal septum, your ENT (Eye-Nose-Throat) specialist working with the Eye and ENT Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital will ask you questions about your symptoms. He/she will then conduct a physical examination using special instruments to examine the inside of your nose.




The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.