Initial treatment of a deviated septum may be directed at managing the symptoms of the tissues lining the nose, which may then contribute to symptoms of nasal obstruction and drainage. Your doctor may prescribe:
- Decongestants. Decongestants are medications that reduce nasal tissue swelling, helping to keep the airways on both sides of your nose open. Decongestants are available as a pill or as a nasal spray. Use nasal sprays with caution, however. Frequent and continued use can create dependency and cause symptoms to be worse (rebound) after you stop using them. Decongestants have a stimulant effect and may cause you to be jittery as well as elevate your blood pressure and heart rate.
- Antihistamines. Antihistamines are medications that help prevent allergy symptoms, including obstruction and runny nose. They can also sometimes help nonallergic conditions such as those occurring with a cold. Some antihistamines cause drowsiness and can affect your ability to perform tasks that require physical coordination, such as driving.
- Nasal steroid sprays. Prescription nasal corticosteroid sprays can reduce inflammation in your nasal passage and help with obstruction or drainage. It usually takes from one to three weeks for steroid sprays to reach their maximal effect, so it is important to follow your doctor's directions in using them.
Medications only treat the swollen mucus membranes and won't correct a deviated septum.
Surgical repair (septoplasty)
If you still experience symptoms despite medical therapy, you may consider surgery to correct your deviated septum (septoplasty).
Septoplasty is the usual way to repair a deviated septum. During septoplasty, your nasal septum is straightened and repositioned in the center of your nose. This may require your surgeon to cut and remove parts of your septum before reinserting them in the proper position.
The level of improvement you can expect with surgery depends on the severity of your deviation. Symptoms due to the deviated septum — particularly nasal obstruction — often completely resolve. However, any accompanying nasal or sinus conditions affecting the tissues lining your nose — such as allergies — can't be cured with only surgery.
Reshaping your nose
In some cases, surgery to reshape the nose (rhinoplasty) is performed at the same time as septoplasty. Rhinoplasty involves modifying the bone and cartilage of your nose to change its shape or size or both.