When Snoring Is Caused By a Deviated Septum
Occasionally snoring isn’t so innocent, especially when it is caused by a deviated septum. Snoring is a noise created by the partial obstruction of the upper airway, typically either the nasal passage or the throat. If the airway becomes totally obstructed, it may lead to the disorder called sleep apnea. Snoring is very common, and there are many potential causes. One potential cause is something called a deviated septum.
Ideally, the airway would be completely clear and air would move in and out without disruption. Unfortunately, sometimes this clear passage becomes partially blocked. This may be due to enlargement of the tonsils or adenoids, congestion in the nose, excessive weight leading to a narrowed passage, or even a shift in something called the nasal septum.
The nose has tissue made of cartilage that separates the left and right nasal passageways. If you stick a finger in your nostril, you can feel this tissue called the nasal septum in the middle of the nose. Unfortunately, sometimes this tissue can be shifted to one side or the other. It is estimated that approximately 80 percent of people have a deviated septum. This may occur as a result of trauma, such as a broken nose, but having a deviated septum also seems to have a genetic influence. This shift can cause partial obstruction of one of the nasal passages, leading to difficulty breathing on that side and snoring.
Some of the common symptoms associated with a deviated septum include:
- Obstruction of one or both nostrils
- Nasal congestion
- Frequent sinus infections
Small deviations in the nasal septum may lead to no symptoms and may not require treatment. However, significant problems with breathing may result. If this occurs, it may be necessary to have surgery called septoplasty. This involves moving the nasal septum back to the midline to open up the airways on each side. This is often curative of the difficulties breathing, including any snoring that may have been present.
If you are concerned that you may have a deviated septum, it is important to visit your healthcare provider. After a careful examination of your nasal passageways with a device called a nasal speculum, you may be referred to an otorhinolaryngologist who specializes in disorders of the ear, nose, and throat. This problem can often be treated successfully.