Living with a deviated septum can make breathing exceptionally difficult and can lead to frustrations when trying to fall asleep at night.
But, how exactly do a deviated septum and sleep apnea relate to each other?
Let’s dive into the connection between a deviated septum and sleep apnea.
What Is a Deviated Septum?
The septum is the piece of cartilage that runs between your nostrils, separating the two cavities. However, this cartilage can become deviated, leading to your nostrils differing in size. In extreme cases, a deviated septum can cause severe breathing difficulties due to the nasal passageways becoming obstructed more easily.
There are a few different ways that a septum can become deviated. The most common way to develop a deviated septum is through blunt trauma to the nose or face; this dislodges the cartilage in the nose and sometimes results in the septum healing incorrectly.
It is also possible to be born with a deviated septum. Whether this is the result of a birth defect or the fetus suffering an injury in the womb or during birth, the nose is simply formed incorrectly.
Signs You Have a Deviated Septum
There are a few different signs and self-tests that you can use to determine if you have a deviated septum. These include but are not limited to:
- Difficulty Breathing
- Snoring During the Night
- Your Nostrils Become Obstructed Easily
- You Suffer Frequent Nosebleeds
If you are concerned you may have a deviated septum, talk to your doctor about the symptoms you are experiencing.
How Are a Deviated Septum and Sleep Apnea Related?
In order to understand the correlation between a deviated septum and sleep apnea, it’s important to understand what sleep apnea is. Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder, categorized as difficulty getting a proper amount of oxygen during sleep. This can be caused by the throat muscles relaxing too much during rest or by the brain failing to send signals to the throat and lungs to breathe while you sleep.
Sleep apnea has many potential causes, and a deviated septum can put you at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea. However, it does not directly cause sleep apnea; rather, it worsens the condition if it already exists. This is due to the fact that your nostrils can become obstructed more easily while you sleep, leading to breathing difficulties.
It is important to note that you can still have sleep apnea without a deviated septum. If you notice that you are waking up throughout the night because of difficulty breathing, or your loved ones comment on you snoring loudly and consistently, then there may be another reason for your sleep apnea. In order to get a proper diagnosis, speak with your doctor as soon as you notice symptoms.
If you do have a deviated septum and sleep apnea, the severity of the resulting sleep apnea will depend on how far bent your septum is. In order to get a full understanding, you’ll need to have a scan done to see how your septum is aligned. It will also depend on whether or not you have an existing form of sleep apnea and how severe your symptoms are.
If you leave your sleep apnea or deviated septum unchecked for too long, you could face serious consequences. The lack of oxygen you get during the night can cause brain damage after an extended period of time and can cause death if you stop breathing during the night.
Treatment for a Deviated Septum
Fortunately, there are treatment options to help you fix a deviated septum. The first option is a septoplasty, which is a type of surgery that allows doctors to open up the nose and cut the septum so that they can place it properly.
If you prefer a less invasive option, you can also get a non-surgical balloon sinuplasty. A small device is placed inside of your nostril and is then inflated to add pressure against the septum. Once it has been put back into place, the device is removed.
With a balloon sinuplasty, there is no need to worry about bruising or an extended healing period. The process itself takes about 15 minutes and only requires a minor sedative, so you’ll be in and out in no time.
Whether your sleep apnea is a result of a deviated septum or not, you have plenty of options at your disposal to treat and manage your symptoms for a better night’s sleep. Be sure to talk with your doctor about your sleep health to get you on your way towards a restful night.
Think You May Have Sleep Apnea? Take Our FREE Sleep Apnea Quiz!