A blocked nose does not have to be a long-term problem.
Sometimes, a blocked nose can be misinterpreted as having a very bad cold. However, it can be the case that the cartilage and bone inside your nose are responsible for the blockage. This is known as the deviated nasal septum.
What is a deviated nasal septum?
The septum is the cartilage and bone inside your nose that separates your nostrils. For most people, the septum is usually straight, but it can be deviated (bent), causing symptoms of a blocked nose.
What are the benefits of surgery?
Your septum will be straight, which should relieve your symptoms of a blocked nose.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
Surgery is recommended as it is the only dependable way to cure the condition. Unfortunately, you cannot straighten your septum without surgery.
What does the operation involve?
The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic, but a local anaesthetic can be used. The operation usually takes about 45 minutes. To start, your surgeon will make a cut on the lining of your nose over your septum and lift the mucosa away from the cartilage and bone. They will remove the parts of the cartilage and bone that are bent, and they will put the rest back in a straight position. In addition, your surgeon may place some packing in your nose to prevent bleeding.
What complications can happen?
Some of the complication listed can be serious and can even cause death. However, your doctor will discuss these with you if you have any concerns.
General complications of any operation
- Infection of the surgical site (wound)
- Blood clot in your leg
- Blood clot in your lung
Specific complications of this operation
- Adhesions, where scar tissue forms deep inside your nose and can obstruct airflow
- Developing a collection of blood (haematoma) or an abscess between the layers of your septum
- Making a hole in your septum
- Damage to nerves that supply the skin and the gum over your front upper teeth
- Change to the shape of your nose
- Reduced sense of smell
- Toxic shock syndrome, which is an infection of your bloodstream
How soon will I recover?
If there are no complications, you should be able to go home the same day. However, if you had non-dissolvable packing in your nose, you will need to stay overnight, and the packing will be removed the next morning.
You will need to stay off work and away from groups of people for two weeks. This is to avoid catching a cold, which could result in an infection. This also means you cannot do any exercise, have a hot bath or bend down for two weeks. Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice. As a result, most people make a full recovery and can return to normal activities.
On the bright side, having surgery will result in you having a straight septum, which should relieve your symptoms of a blocked nose.
Author: Miss Ruth Capper MD FRCS (ORL-HNS)
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