Ep.7 - Deviated Septum Straight Talk
In this episode, Mobile Sinus Dr. Ron Swain, Jr, discusses and explains the very common physical and sinus conditions associated with having a deviated septum. Host Stacy Wellborn shares with the audience that she thinks that her nose is crooked and wants to know if she needs to have surgery. Plus, Dr. Swain shares how a deviated septum is diagnosed, medical treatment options, and when you should consider a septoplasty (deviated septum surgery) to improve breathing thru your nose.
What You WIll Hear:
1. Deviated septum defined and explained.
2. What causes a deviated septum?
3. Septoplasty explained and described.
3. The benefits of a septoplasty (deviated septum surgery).
5. Amount of recovery time required after a septoplasty.
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Show Transcript of Ep.7 - Deviated Septum Straight Talk
Stacy: So, Dr. Swain, a friend of mine recently had deviated septum surgery. Can you tell me what that is?
Dr. Swain: Yeah, a deviated septum surgery or septal deviation surgery is called a septoplasty. And what that is, is straightening out the inside of the nose. The nose is, actually…there are two different sides. There's a right and left side, and that's separated by the part of the nose that's called the septum. Some of that is made of cartilage, some of that is made of bone, and a septoplasty is straightening out and reconstructing the inside of the nose and is primarily done so people can breathe better through their nose.
Stacy: I feel like I hear about the surgery often. Is it a common surgery?
Dr. Swain: Very much so. It's very, very common. It’s one of the most common tools that ENT doctors have to help people breathe better through their nose.
Stacy: So is it something you're born with or did something happened to cause the septum to deviate?
Dr. Swain: The simple answer is yes. Sometimes it's from trauma. Sometimes it's genetic. Sometimes the septum just grows that way. A lot of times people will tell you, you know, "I got hit in my nose," or, "I've never been hit in my nose in my life." There are a variety of different means that that happens, but it's very common.
Stacy: Is there ever an occasion when you would not fix it?
Dr. Swain: You know, that's a great question. There are people out there who in the course of an examination you'll say, “Yeah, you've got a deviated septum,” and they’re like, "I'm not bothered by it." I think it's a finding on physical exam. If someone is not complaining about it, I wouldn't fix it.
Stacy: So, when someone has this surgery, what are the biggest benefits?
Dr. Swain: Primarily, they can breathe better through their nose. That's the number one biggest benefit from the operation. A lot of times septoplasty is performed in conjunction with sinus surgery, and a septoplasty has to be performed to get access to the...to be able to operate on the sinuses.
Stacy: So once you had the surgery, does it change the way that you sound? So if someone's a singer and they have this surgery, does it change their voice?
Dr. Swain: Usually, not. A septoplasty usually will not change the way somebody sounds. I guess if someone was very, very nasal, and you're opening up the side of the nose, you could make them less nasal, usually not in a way that would be bad.
Stacy: I've also heard that this is an excuse to get a nose job. Tell me about that.
Dr. Swain: Well, a septoplasty sometimes is referred to as a nose job. There's also a procedure called a rhinoplasty, which is a procedure done on the outside of the nose, so it depends on your definition of a nose job and what exactly you're trying to accomplish. Typically, a septoplasty is designed to help people breathe better through their nose or in conjunction with gaining access to the sinuses.
Stacy: So what's the typical recovery time?
Dr. Swain: Usually, a week. Most of the time, a septoplasty is usually done like on a Thursday or Friday toward the end of the week, and most people take the weekend off, and then by Monday or Tuesday, usually you're able to do most things. If you have a job that's very physically demanding, you may need to be off a little more time, or if you have a job that you're in a very dusty environment where, you know, you're getting a lot of particulate matter up in your nose in your nasal cavity, you might need a little more time.
Stacy: When I look in the mirror, I feel like I have a bit of a crooked nose. So does that mean I have a deviated septum?
Dr. Swain: Well, it might, it might not. It kind of depends on a few things. Let me just start off by saying that, you know, when you look at the nose, overall, the nose is like…it’s like a tent. Okay, so you got the side walls, which are the outer walls that you see, and then you have the tent pole which is the septum, which is on the inside of the nose. And so if you look at your nose on the outside and you think it's crooked, you might have a septal problem. You might not have a septal problem. And a lot of that depends on how we go about diagnosing people with a deviated septum, which is a great question. I know we're gonna get into that in later shows. I think the most important thing is when you're having that...what you're really asking is how do you make the diagnosis of having a deviated septum, which is a very great question. And sometimes we take pictures of the nose. Sometimes we look inside the nose. Most always we look inside of the nose as well.
Stacy: So, let's say I come and see you, and you diagnose me with the deviated septum. Do I have to have surgery or are there treatments that I can do if I'm not quite ready for that?
Dr. Swain: I think we always start off with medical therapy first. It's very disconcerting to walk into a doctor's office and walk out being told you have to have an operation, so we don't work that way. There are times that you may end up needing an operation, but to treat nasal obstruction, and if you have a deviated septum, one of the things we would always talk about and we've mentioned this before, saltwater nasal rinses on the inside of the nose. Saltwater is one of those great natural anti-inflammatory means we have of treating nasal obstruction and nasal congestion. Using nasal steroid sprays, everybody knows probably Flonase. There are other medications out there. There’s Flonase, and Nasonex, and Nasacort, just to name a few. Sometimes using allergy medicines sometimes will help as well. There are some people that just medically speaking are not able to have surgery, so we’re always looking at different means of trying to help people with nasal obstruction.
Having said that, structural problems usually require structural solutions. I mean if something is crooked and it’s blocking airflow in the nose, it’s not gonna get better a lot of times unless it’s surgically altered or repaired. And so, yes, we’d like to try to use medical therapy first, but in a lot of situations, people end up having to have something to permanently help them to breathe better.
Stacy: For those out there who want to come and see you to see if they have that structural problem, how is the best way to get an appointment with you?
Dr. Swain: A call. I mean that's the number one thing. My office number is 251-470-8823. That's the direct line for the appointments, 251-470-8823. And, of course, we're pushing at trying to make appointments online. There's drronswain.com for appointments as well.
Stacy: Great. Thanks, Dr. Swain.
Dr. Swain: Thank you, Stacy.
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