A deviated septum is defined as the thin wall of cartilage that separates your nostrils being off-center or displaced to one side. This results in one nostril being larger than the other, and depending on the degree of severity, can also cause symptoms such as nasal blockage and difficulties breathing.
Deviated septa are very common, affecting more than 3 million people in the United States. While having a deviated septum is usually not a big deal, sometimes it can lead to dangerous complications that need medical attention.
A deviated septum is caused by the nasal tissue that separates your nostrils being displaced. This can occur for multiple reasons. These include:
Birth defects: In a lot of cases, a deviated septum is something that appears during fetal development, meaning that it is apparent from birth.
Injury to the nose: Other times, a deviated septum is the result of an injury to your nose that causes the septum to be moved from its original position. This can occur during childbirth for infants, or from everyday accidents as a child or adult. The most common causes of trauma to the nose are contact sports such as football and hockey, active play, roughhousing, and automobile accidents.
While sometimes the cause of a deviated septum is out of your control, there are some factors that increase your risk that you can take charge of. An example would be playing contact sports such as football or hockey and neglecting to wear a helmet with a face mask, which makes you more susceptible to sustaining injuries to your face. Another risk factor is not wearing your seatbelt while you are riding in a vehicle, which makes significantly increases your chances of becoming injured if there is a wreck.