Question: After always having trouble breathing through my nose (with my mouth closed) when sleeping on my right side, I asked my PCP to check, and he informed me that I have a deviated septum which could explain it. Since I can’t ever remember being able to breathe easily through my nose with my mouth closed while sleeping (and not snoring), I’m writing you to see what may be the issue and if I might be a candidate for some sort of deviated septum correction.
Answer: Thanks for your question.
The most likely cause of your breathing problem is a “deviated” septum. The septum is a wall that separates the nasal airway into two separate passages and is never completely straight. Unfortunately, either from birth or from trauma, this wall may be twisted and block either one or both sides of the nose. First, I would suggest an ENT examination to make sure that is the cause of your symptoms. Other problems, such as nasal polyps (benign nasal growths) can block one side or the other- or both, as well.
If a deviated septum is the cause, this can be readily fixed with a minor surgical procedure. Straightening the septum, by the way, does NOT change the appearance of the nose, nor should you get black and blue from this. Frequently, people have coupled cosmetic surgery (rhinoplasty) at the same time, which does both.
I hope this clears things up. We’d be happy to see you here at the Sinus Center and help figure out how to best improve your breathing.
Robert Pincus MD
Co-director NY Sinus Center