How to Perform a Deviated Septum Self Test

Published on: July 17, 2023
Woman performing deviated septum self test.

A deviated septum is a condition where the septum or cartilage between the nostrils is off-center. It is estimated that up to 80% of people have this condition to some extent, which can cause nasal obstruction. Learn how to perform a deviated septum self test to see if you have this condition.

Causes and Symptoms of Deviated Septum

A deviated septum can be a congenital condition that you are born with, or the cartilage can be shifted due to an injury or internal pressure inside the nose. Many people with a deviated septum have no issues at all, especially if the cartilage is only slightly off-center.

When the septum is significantly shifted to the left or right nostril, it can cause difficulty with breathing. A nasal obstruction caused by a deviated septum can affect your health and cause uncomfortable symptoms. Some of the possible deviated septum symptoms include:

  • Snoring or noisy breathing while sleeping
  • Nasal congestion
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Headaches
  • Increased risk of sinus infections
  • Chronic nosebleeds
  • Facial pain
  • A crooked nose

Those with a deviated septum are at higher risk for sleep apnea and sinus infections, which can impact your health. If you are concerned that you may have a deviated septum, there are ways to identify this condition. Here is how you can perform a deviated septum self-test.

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Testing Yourself for a Deviated Septum

If you have symptoms of deviated septum, you may want to perform a test to see if you have a nasal obstruction in one nostril. There are many other possible causes of nasal obstruction besides a deviated septum, but this test can help determine whether you should seek medical treatment.

To perform your deviated septum self-test, you need to block one nostril. Press down on the outside of the nose on one side, completely closing the nasal passage. Then, take a deep breath and pay attention to how difficult it is to breathe through that nostril. Repeat on the other nostril.

If one side seemed clogged or difficult to intake air over the other, do the deviated septum self test again. Pay close attention to the differences. If both nostrils seem blocked, you likely have nasal or sinus congestion. If only one seems clogged, you may have a deviated septum or another condition.

Nasal polyps, enlarged turbinates, and other nasal conditions can have similar symptoms to a deviated septum. However, deviated septum symptoms typically only affect one side of the nose, whereas others can affect both nasal passages.

What to Do If You Have a Positive Deviated Septum Self-Test

If you have deviated septum symptoms and your deviated septum self-test is positive, it is time to seek medical treatment. Since deviated septum can affect your breathing, especially at night, you want to explore treatment options to avoid unnecessary health complications.

Your primary care doctor can diagnose a deviated septum. For mild cases, they may recommend medications or minimally-invasive treatments to control symptoms. Patients with severe deviations may be referred to a specialist to determine whether septoplasty is needed.

What Is Septoplasty and Who Performs It?

Septoplasty is a nose surgery that is used to reposition the septum to create even nostrils and nasal passages. The septum may need to be reshaped and moved to create open nasal passages on both sides. An estimated 260,000 septoplasty procedures are done each year in the U.S.

General septoplasty can be performed through the nostrils to trim, move, and straighten the septum. Some patients may need their nasal bone shifted or repaired if they had a broken nose that caused their deviated septum. Cartilage graft or stents may be needed to support the septum.

Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists typically perform septoplasty procedures to reposition only the septum. If the patient also wants their nose reshaped or needs more extensive repairs on the nose structure, a plastic surgeon can perform both a rhinoplasty and septoplasty at the same time.

Septoplasty is usually performed under general anesthesia. If rhinoplasty is also performed, it is always completed under general anesthesia. The surgery can take 90 minutes or longer, but most patients can return home after their procedure and do not need an overnight hospital stay.
A woman during septoplasty consultation.
After septoplasty, patients should plan to recover for at least a week. The nose will have splints or packing put in place while the nose heals, which will be removed after a few days. Most patients recover within three weeks and notice a significant improvement in their deviated septum symptoms.

If you have symptoms of deviated septum, or your nose looks crooked, you can perform a deviated septum self-test to determine if you may have this condition. It is important to see your doctor for a professional diagnosis and to receive treatment for a deviated septum.

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