The Deviated Septum Myth

Dr. Park debunks one of the most common myths about the nose.

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14 thoughts on “The Deviated Septum Myth

    My son was born with a "deviated septum" – as well as a small lower jaw and tongue – he has an underbit – he has surgery 2 years ago to correct his tongue and septum.  The surgery did not work – and he continues to complain of inability to breath through his nose and headaches at 21 years.  The dentist wants to re-align his jaw – but that is also an awful surgery..   What should be our next steps?

  2. i suffer from a deviated septum for 3 years now. 2 years ago i got a septoplasty surgery, it did not work. i then went to another ent and got another septoplasy surgery done, it still didnt work. i dont know what to do

  3. Bryan,

    As I pointed out in the article, having a deviated septum is not the only reason for a stuffy nose. You also have to address the nasal turbinates as well as the nasal valves. Did you ever try using Breathe Rite strips to lift up your nostrils?

  4. Wouldn’t a deviated septum cause breathing problems in one nostril but not the other depending on the configuration of the deviation?

  5. Mr. Smith,

    You would think so, but the configuration of your nasal turbinates and the flimsiness of your nostrils can determine how well you can breathe through the nostril opposite the septal deviation. For example, increased air flow through the good side can cause forces that promote nostril collapse, depending on how flimsy your nostrils are. This is why Breathe Right Strips work occasionally, but not in everyone. It’s also important to address any allergies or sinus issues as well.

  6. Dr Park,

    I was very interested in this myth because I suffered a severe nose fracture long ago, It was addressed by manual re positioning and no follow up due to it being military related, I was later diagnosed with a deviated septum with 80 and 90% blockage of my nasal passages, Now some 20 years beyond that I have been given a diagnosis of Obstructive sleep apnea although I do not suffer from the majority of the common contributing factors, weight is good, not diabetic, neck is less than 16 inches at 5’9″ 160 lbs, I am 51. I am a smoker and I have been on long term treatment with anti depressants.

  7. I have a deviated septum and suffer from disrupted sleep. Is it possible that the deviated septum can cause sleep apnea? At age 78, I exercise strenuously and have no weight problem.

  8. Hello,

    I am trying to get some advice on how to handle my deviated septum issue. I was diagnosed with this condition by an allergy specialist years ago. I went through the regular allergic tests to my skin and was told later that the deviated septum was causing my allergies.

    This made sense since I broke my nose when I was in my 20s. Now to top this I was also born with a hair lip cleft palate and only had minor surgery to correct it when I was younger.

    So my question is can a deviated septum be forcing me to wake up every other hour? I ask since I have never really slept (at most) 4 hours in the last several years. I can feel my heart racing a lot too which makes it hard to fall asleep.

    I will be seeing a physician soon, but found your video on YouTube.

    I appreciate any information you can offer. Thank you.

  9. The septoplasty operation is one of the most misunderstood surgical procedures that lay people, and even many physicians have. There are thousands of people each year who report to have deviated septum in New York alone. A deviated septum can either develop because of unusual growth of bone cartilage or it can become deviated after an injury to your nose.

  10. Hello Dr. Park,
    I developed obstructive sleep apnea after undergoing a second rhinoplasty ( surgery in a 2 year period (1996 &1998). The 1st surgery did not please me cosmetically, and while the 2nd operation was a success (I also had a small chin implant installed) it also gave me a bit of a curve in my nose (just a bit). I have been going from physician to physician to figure out what is happening with my apnea. After watching your video, it is pretty clear that I have the symptoms you mentioned. My CPAP machine does not solve my issue as I actually wake up more frequently with this on. I fall asleep fine with it on, but it is pretty clear to me that the blockage still exists with the CPAP on. I am young (40), in great shape, and about to be married, but I am very concerned about a stroke risk. My question is what are my options? My ENT doctor recommends a possible rhinoplasty revision (something I do not want to do). Is there a mouthpiece that will hold my togue back? My fiance is very concerned……I live in the Philadelphia region.
    Thank You,


  11. Jeremiah,

    There are so many different options for treating OSA, it’s difficult to describe it all in this forum. The nose is only a small (but important) part of the problem that’s causing your breathing problems at night. I recommend that you see your sleep physician or an ENT that specializes in treating the entire upper airway, and not just the soft palate. You can also see a dentist to see if you’re a candidate for an oral appliances. Without examining you in person, it’s difficult to make any useful recommendations, since everyone is different.

  12. I previously had skin cancer surgery on my nose, and that may be related to my problem.
    I recently did the “pranayama” breathing technique (holding one nostril shut and breathing deeply in and out of the other) and discovered that my right nostril is almost completely obstructed. I tried one of your suggested tests (pushing the skin next to the nose up toward the outside corner of the eye) and that worked to open the right nostril for almost full airflow.
    I don’t have congestion or apnea problems, but sometimes people can hear my breathing.
    My question is: How can I keep that right nostril open during waking (and sleeping) hours to get full balanced airflow, especially during athletic activity?

  13. Dennis,

    I’ve seen a lot of yoga practitioners who have physically blocked nasal passageways, which makes it difficult to perform alternate side breathing. In some cases, nasal surgery allowed them to improve their yoga breathing.

  14. I had my SECOND septoplasty (this time with turbinate reduction) three weeks ago yesterday. The first ENT was clearly a scheister. I trusted the referring GP, so didn’t do research, and believe me I regret that. He more or less messed my nose up cosmetically so he could offer to fix it for thirteen grand, leaving me with an almond size/shape bump visible externally, which wasn’t there before. The new ENT teaches it, and is VERY good, yet the septum, which for the first few days post-splints seemed fixed, has now curved again, sadly more than it was curved before. Can I get a third surgery? Do I need a rhinoplasty instead? For background, I am not overweight, yet have severe sleep apnea. I cannot tolerate the machine, which barely helped anyway, given where the blockage occurs. I have already had my palatine tonsils removed. Perhaps I need the lingual tonsils out as well, but my airway doesn’t just close off at the throat, so I’m not sure what good this alone will do. For background, I have been hit in the face quite a lot, including when I was a child. There was a relationship during which this occurred almost daily for eight months, and of course he was never going to let me attend an emergency department. I estimate my nose has actually been broken four times. I am worried this is why my it heals worse every time they try to fix it. The scar tissue is just more stubborn. Am I basically screwed? I am tired of being tired. I am tired of the chronic infections. I am tired of fighting to breathe, and having memory issues, etc, etc, etc. Help.