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Deviated Nasal Septum

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Deviated Nasal Septum

(Deviated Septum)


A deviated nasal septum is a problem with the alignment of the wall that separates the left and right nostrils. This may make it hard for air to flow equally through each nostril.

Deviated Septum.

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A deviated septum may be present at birth. It may also be caused by an injury.

Risk Factors

Playing contact sports such as karate and football can raise the risk of this problem.


Some people may not have symptoms. Other people may have:

  • Problems breathing through one or both nostrils
  • Nosebleeds
  • Sinus infections
  • Noisy breathing during sleep
  • Mouth breathing during sleep


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the nose. This is enough to make the diagnosis.


People who do not have symptoms may not need to be treated. Others may need surgery. This is called a septoplasty. The goal of surgery is to ease breathing by centering the septum between the two nostrils.

Rhinoplasty may also be done to reshape the nose at the same time. Together the two surgeries are called septorhinoplasty.


Wearing protective headgear when playing contact sports may lower the risk of injury to the nose.





  • Deviated septum. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/?q=node/1406.
  • Greenstone, M. and Hack, M. Obstructive sleep apnoea. BMJ, 2014; 348: g3745.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/obstructive-sleep-apnea-osa-in-adults.
  • Septal deviation and perforation. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/ear,-nose,-and-throat-disorders/nose-and-paranasal-sinus-disorders/septal-deviation-and-perforation.


  • James P. Cornell, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.