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Nasal Congestion
December 2001

Q. My husband recently was diagnosed with a deviated septum and referred to an ENT. He has a slight left hand curve in his nose and is not sure if he broke it when he was younger. He is 30 years old and does not take any medication or use nasal sprays. Is there any information on surgery to correct his problem? I have only been able to find information about the pre-surgery. To my dismay, I found that most people who have had the surgery are not happy with the results. What are the risks with this surgery and what can my husband expect? He is wary of having it done even but the deviated septum doesn't allow him to breathe well, have headaches, constant congestion, and nosebleeds.

A. Several conditions can contribute to the chronic nasal congestion you have had. Causes include anatomic blockage (deviated septum, bone abnormalities, soft tissue swelling in the adenoids, nasal polyps) and situations in which the anatomy is fine but there is physiologic swelling of the tissues (allergies, sinus infection, side effects from medication, overuse of nasal sprays).

Several factors may pertain to an individual with a chronic problem as you describe. All relevant factors need treatment for the problem to clear up, so often more than one doctor is involved in the evaluation including your family physician, an ear, nose, and throat specialist (otolaryngologist), and an allergist. All of these factors should be evaluated before surgery is undertaken, as the surgery alone might not clear up the problems you describe. Definitely let the doctors know if matters are not clearing, and even consider getting another specialty consultation.




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