A deviated septum occurs when your nasal septum — the thin wall that separates your right and left nasal passages — is displaced to one side.

A deviated septum can be caused by:

  • A condition present at birth. In some cases, a deviated septum occurs during fetal development and is apparent at birth.
  • Injury to the nose. A deviated septum can also be the result of an injury that causes the nasal septum to be moved out of position. In infants, such an injury may occur during childbirth. In children and adults, a wide array of accidents may lead to a nose injury and deviated septum — from tripping on a step to colliding with another person on the sidewalk. Trauma to the nose most commonly occurs during contact sports, active play or roughhousing, or automobile accidents.

The normal aging process may affect nasal structures, worsening a deviated septum over time. Also, changes in the amount of swelling of nasal tissues, because of developing rhinitis or rhinosinusitis, can accentuate the narrowing of a nasal passage from a deviated septum, resulting in nasal obstruction.

Aug. 13, 2013