Do you find you sometimes have trouble breathing through one side of your nose versus the other? If so, you might have a deviated septum.

The septum is a thin wall of cartilage and bone that runs between your left and right nostrils, keeping them separated into the two nasal passageways. Usually, this wall runs straight, allowing for proper passage of air during inhalation and exhalation. However, in many cases, this is not always the case.

“A deviated septum is a condition that can occur when your nasal passageway displaces to one side, causing a blockage in one or both nostrils. This limits the airflow that can pass in and out of one’s nose.” writes Toronto Plastic Surgeons, a clinic that performs nose surgery in Toronto.

A deviated septum can be naturally occurring or be created after a forced trauma from an injury such as a broken nose.

Signs of a Deviated Septum

Many people go their whole lives without noticing they have a deviated septum, as its signs may be subtle or ranged enough it might’ve been assumed to be related to other conditions. The following are some of the signs you might have a deviated septum.

Difficulty breathing through the nose

This is the most common sign of a deviated septum. Take one finger and close a nostril, breath in and out; Then, do the same with the opposite side. Do you notice a difference?

The misalignment from a deviated septum can limit the flow of air from one or both nasal passageways. It can occur year-round or flare up during times of congestion such as allergy season or when dealing with sickness like a cold.

Snoring and Apnea

Chronic snoring is another prevalent sign of a deviated septum. When you fall asleep, the muscles in your throat relax and narrow, requiring your primary airflow to come through your nose; as the deviated septum prevents that proper flow, the flow has to force itself harder. The force causes the tissues in your throat to reverberate, causing the sound of snoring. Snoring can come with a list of issues, such as disputation of sleep (for you and anyone sharing the room), headaches, dry mouth, and more.

This symptom is prevalent among men who suffer from a deviated septum. According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 40 percent of men snore, which is almost double the rate of women.

In more extreme cases of a deviated septum, the snoring could progress to the point of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where airflow is so severely limited while asleep that it results in a total halt of breathing. This can cause a jarring and startling disturbance to your sleep, and in some cases, may require a sleep aid machine for proper airflow.

Sinus Headaches

Having a lack of airflow through your nasal passageways can cause a buildup of pressure, leading to frequent sinus headaches. This can usually be determined as well by tenderness and soreness in your face around the areas of the sinus

Nosebleeds and Infections

An improper flow and passing of air in your nasal passageways can cause them to dry out easily. This leads to the tissue cracking and bleeding, causing a nosebleed. Over time, this can lead to a buildup of dried blood, resulting in a blockage. As having a deviated septum already has a higher risk of infection due to the improper flow, this dried blood blockage can only make the risk of infection worse, as well as heighten any of the previously mentioned symptoms.