From persistent nasal congestion to difficulty breathing, a deviated septum can make your child miserable. This nose condition can also cause facial pain and affect your child’s ability to sleep soundly, making it difficult for your child to focus on activities or schoolwork. Fortunately, a deviated septum is also a treatable problem.
There are several ways to treat a deviated septum, but the most effective option is usually surgery. Our board-certified pediatric ENT surgeons perform deviated septum surgery on children of all ages, improving their nasal function and their quality of life.
If you think your child may need treatment for a deviated septum, contact the pediatric otolaryngologists at Pediatric ENT Associates at Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham today at (205) 831-0101.
What is a Pediatric Deviated Septum?
A deviated septum in children, or a pediatric deviated septum, is a condition where the cartilage that divides the two chambers in the nose deviates from the midline to create asymmetry between the two nasal passages. People usually have a deviated septum from birth; however, a deviated septum can also be the result of an injury or damage from a previous medical procedure.
We can usually diagnose a deviated septum through a visual examination. We might also use a fiberoptic nasal endoscopy to get a closer view of the septum. This procedure uses a device that also allows us to look for other abnormalities that could be impacting your child’s nasal function.
Symptoms of a Deviated Septum
There are many symptoms of a deviated septum, but breathing difficulty through the nose is the one you may notice first. A person with a deviated septum may have more difficulty breathing on one side. Additional symptoms of a deviated septum in children are:
- Nasal congestion
- Blockage of one or both nostrils
- Frequent sinus infections
- Headaches and/or facial pain
- Postnasal drip (mucus dripping down the back of the throat)
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Noisy breathing during sleep
Causes of a Deviated Septum
The development of a deviated septum in children can occur in two ways. One cause is a congenital disorder (a condition that is present at birth) and the other is trauma to the nose. Children can injure the nose during sports, in a car or playground accident, or even a fall. Trauma can also occur during the birthing process or a medical treatment.
Should I Treat My Child’s Deviated Septum?
In some cases, you can effectively manage your child’s symptoms using nasal sprays, decongestants, antihistamines, or steroid sprays. However, these treatments only address the symptoms – they do not “cure” the problem. The only permanent solution to a deviated septum is a surgery known as septoplasty.
At Pediatric ENT Associates at Children’s of Alabama, we typically do not recommend surgery for very young patients unless the deviation is causing severe symptoms. We will take a variety of factors into consideration at your child’s examination to determine whether surgery is the best option.
Correcting a Deviated Septum
If your child needs a septoplasty, it will probably be on an outpatient basis, allowing your child to go home the same day to recover in comfortable surroundings. A septoplasty usually takes about one to one-and-a-half hours to complete and then your child will need to remain in a designated recovery area for a period of observation before getting released to go home.
We perform septoplasty using general anesthesia. Incisions may be restricted to inside the nose (closed septoplasty) or a small incision might be made at the base of the columella (open septoplasty). If an open septoplasty is necessary, rest assured the small scar left behind will be virtually unnoticeable
Through the incisions, we will make the necessary corrections to the septum. Septoplasty only alters the interior structure of the nose – it is unlikely you will see any external changes. Surgery to change the appearance of the nose is called a rhinoplasty and is considered a cosmetic procedure. To learn more about septoplasty surgery, please visit pubmed.gov.
Recovery After Deviated Septum Surgery
After septoplasty, your child may experience the following side effects:
- Swelling of the nose and face
- Swelling and bruising around the eyes
- Tender, achy nose
- Dull headache
- Some bleeding for the first few days
During the recovery process, your child may feel tired and sore. Most of these side effects will only linger for a few days. Children are often up and around within that time, and they are usually able to return to school within one week. Minor swelling may persist much longer, but should not significantly affect the function or appearance of the nose.
Your child will have follow-up appointments with their surgeon so we can monitor the healing process and address potential issues when they arise. Parents are encouraged to contact us with any concerns or questions at any point during the surgery process.
Schedule An Appointment with a Pediatric Otolaryngologist in Birmingham
Our team of pediatric otolaryngologists at Pediatric ENT Associates at Children’s of Alabama is ready to answer your questions about your child’s symptoms and treatment options. Contact our Birmingham, Alabama office at (205) 831-0101 to schedule your appointment today.