Is your child’s breathing noisy and raspy? Do they have a persistent runny nose? Do they snore when they are asleep or breathe with their mouth open? If the answer to all of these questions is “yes,” your child could be suffering from a deviated septum.
The septum is the thin piece of cartilage that separates your nostrils like a wall. If your child has a deviated septum, this divider is displaced to one side. This also means that the two passages in the nasal cavity are uneven. A more pronounced deviation in these openings, however, can cause chronic nasal discharge and breathing problems, having a major impact on your child’s quality of life. A deviated septum, sometimes referred to as a sideways displacement, is something treated every day at Pediatric ENT Associates in Birmingham, Alabama. In this blog we’ll explore the treatment options available if your child has a deviated septum.
Treatment Options for a Deviated Septum
Your child’s doctor may prescribe decongestants to help minimize swelling of the nasal septum and passages. Nasal sprays may also be recommended, but prolonged use can cause problems such as over-dependence; when your child suddenly withdraws from relying on the spray, the symptoms of the deviated septum can become more severe.
Any prescribed medication for treating a deviated septum will not correct the condition, but will only alleviate its symptoms. Stopping these treatments will allow previous problems to return. The only way to correct a deviated septum is through surgery called septoplasty. During septoplasty, your surgeon reconstructs the septum to clear the nasal passages, therefore, improving your child’s breathing. This procedure typically causes other symptoms to dissipate.
Septoplasty In Children
Septoplasty is a type of reconstructive plastic surgery that is performed entirely through the nostrils. Sometimes, septoplasty is performed in conjunction with other procedures that will allow more natural breathing through the nose (e.g., sinus surgery, nasal cautery, nasal endoscopy or inferior turbinate reduction).
This type of surgery is more commonly performed in adolescence (at least 16 years of age in girls and 17-18 years of age in boys) because their cartilage is still developing and having the procedure early on may affect midface growth. However, if the nasal obstruction is severe and is causing significant breathing problems, septoplasty may be necessary at an earlier age. And rest assured your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is safe for your child.
What Happens During Septoplasty
Septoplasty is only a minor and minimally-invasive outpatient procedure, which takes approximately 1 to 1.5 hours depending on the severity of the case. The procedure will usually involve the following steps:
- The child is placed under general anesthesia by a pediatric anesthesiologist.
- A pediatric ENT surgeon makes a cut inside your child’s nose. If additional procedures are needed, cuts outside the nose may be required.
- The surgeon cuts through the mucous membrane and removes/reshapes the septum with the help of an endoscope – a flexible tool with a light that helps the surgeon better see the surgical site.
- Other repairs to the nose or sinuses will be performed if necessary.
- The surgeon will close the cut with stitches.
- Cotton or gauze may be placed inside your child’s nose.
What Causes a Deviated Septum?
Up to 80% of the population can have a sideways displacement. A deviated septum can occur during fetal development and be discovered when the baby is born. Your child may have also developed the condition from an injury to the nose. Injuries to the nasal septum typically occur while playing sports, bumping into a wall, or getting into a car accident. A crooked and off-center nasal cartilage can also be caused by a previous surgery for another condition.
The most common signs of a deviated septum are:
- Noisy breathing during sleep
- Sleeping on a particular side
- Chronic nasal discharge
- Chronic nosebleeds
- Chronic stuffy nose
- Chronic sinus infections
- Facial pain
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- Mild sleep apnea
When To Take Your Child to See An ENT
Your family doctor or pediatrician may be able to help manage the symptoms of your child’s nasal obstruction, but an otolaryngologist, otherwise known as ENT (ear, nose, throat) specialist, is specially trained and qualified to evaluate and treat these conditions affecting children and is the best choice if you believe your child has a deviated septum. Also, if your child has not responded to treatment by your primary care physician and has persistent trouble with nasal breathing and sleep problems, consult with a pediatric otolaryngologist.
While general ENT specialists for adults can diagnose, treat, and perform surgery on children, pediatric ENT specialists are uniquely trained and equipped to handle an array of issues that arise when treating babies, children, and teens. Here at the Pediatric ENT Associates in Birmingham, we not only want parents to find the best quality care for their children, but we also want you and your child to feel comfortable and to be treated with age-appropriate gentleness and consideration.
Schedule a Deviated Septum Consultation Today
If your child has prolonged nasal obstruction, and, in effect, are experiencing breathing problems, poor quality of sleep, and difficulty with everyday activities, they may be suffering from a deviated septum. Pediatric ENT Associates at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham can get your child the proper care they may need.
Pediatric ENT Associates is a group of five doctors specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of a full range of pediatric ear, nose and throat conditions. Each doctor is fully board-certified and has an up-to-date medical license from the state of Alabama. For a diagnosis and treatment plan, schedule a consultation by calling us at (205) 831-0101.
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