Deviated Septum

Deviated Septum: Overview

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Enlarged Turbinates: Overview

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Nasal Septum

  • The nasal septum is in the middle of the nasal cavity and is made of cartilage and bone
  • The majority of people have a deviated septum (or “crooked septum”) but most people do not have symptoms
  • If the deviated septum is severe enough, persistent symptoms can develop


  • The most common symptoms of a deviated septum are difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Difficulty breathing usually occurs on the most narrowed side, but can occur on the more open side or both sides
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Frequent sinus infections
  • Noisy nasal breathing
  • Snoring
  • Sometimes unilateral facial pain
  • Severity often fluctuates depending on other conditions such as allergies, sinus disease, enlarged turbinates, and other factors

Causes of Deviated Septum:

  • Septal deviation can be due to nasal trauma
  • Sometimes a deviated septum it is present at birth
  • Sometimes a deviated septum develops during the adolescent growth spurt

Diagnosis of a deviated septum is made by history and physical examination. Sometimes, an endoscope is used to more closely examine the nasal cavity. This can be done in our office. We have a video monitor, so you can see for yourself.

Treatment of Deviated Septum:

  • Medical management is tried first
  • Decreasing mucosal inflammation and swelling related to allergy or environmental irritants is often helpful
  • Surgery to straighten the deviated cartilage and bone (septoplasty) is very helpful in selected patients
  • Septoplasty is an outpatient procedure performed under general anesthesia
  • If needed, enlarged inferior turbinates can be reduced at the same time
  • Septoplasty can also be combined with endoscopic sinus surgery

Deviated Septum

Dr. Barlow operates on pediatric and adult patients at:

  • Randall Children’s Hospital and Legacy Emanuel Medical Center
  • Adventist Medical Center
  • Providence Milwaukie Hospital

If you have deviated septum problems, please call (503) 257-3204 or request a visit online with us.


American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery. One Prince St., Alexandria, VA 22314-3357, 1-703-836-4444