Ask the Doctors: Jan. 21, 2011

Q:  I’ve been told that I snore because I have a deviated septum. What is it and what can I do to fix it?

A: Deviation of the nasal septum is a common condition that may result in difficulty breathing through the nose. The septum is the partition that separates the right and left sides of the nose; a deviation is a bend that can block one or both sides of the nasal breathing passage. The nasal turbinates, which are on the sides of the nose and help warm and humidify air as you breath, can add to the problem. The turbinates are prone to change in size, which may further compromise breathing. Narrowing of the nasal passages results in increased resistance and turbulence in the airway. Turbulence creates negative airway pressures that cause palatal and tongue tissues to flutter and collapse—this produces the socially unacceptable snore. Correction of a deviated septum is accomplished with surgery: septoplasty. Less invasive, office-based procedures to address nasal obstruction include radiofrequency ablation (RFA: low-temperature cautery) of the turbinates.

Melder_bestselfPatrick C. Melder, MD
ENT Associates of North Georgia

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