Should You Treat a Deviated Septum to Cure Sleep Apnea?

sleep apnea and deviated septum

Millions of people in the US alone suffer from sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that prevents you from getting restful sleep at night. Sleep apnea can lead to serious health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke in the long run.

Sleep apnea has many causes, but “what is deviated septum sleep apnea?” “Can the treatment of deviated septum cure sleep apnea?”

What Is a Deviated Septum?

In the nose, the cartilage that separates the two nasal cavities is known as the septum. The septum sometimes becomes deformed or deviated, which causes both the nasal cavities to become different in size and this is known as a deviated septum.

A deviated septum can cause your nasal passages to get obstructed very easily, leading to breathing problems. A deviated septum makes breathing quite difficult, especially when you’re reclined or sleeping on your side.

It is estimated that over 80% of people suffer from a misalignment in their nose, making one of the nasal cavities bigger than the other. There are many reasons why the septum becomes deviated and the most common is when there is blunt trauma to the face or nose. This causes the septum to get dislodged, which may heal incorrectly, causing a deviated septum.

A deviated septum can also be caused by birth, where the nose is not formed properly because of some genetic defect, the fetus suffering some injury in the mother’s womb or an injury caused during the birth of the baby.

Some of the symptoms of a deviated septum include difficulty breathing, nostrils becoming obstructed very easily, snoring when sleeping and nosebleeds.

Is There a Link between Deviated Septum and Sleep Apnea?

As we know, sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes pauses in breathing and prevents you from getting the proper amount of oxygen that is required when you sleep. Sleep apnea can be caused because of various reasons such as the brain not sending signals to your lungs to breathe or your throat muscles relaxing a lot while sleeping.

A deviated septum does not cause sleep apnea directly; however, it puts you at an increased risk of developing the condition. And, if you already suffer from sleep apnea, then a deviated septum can worsen the condition because when you sleep, the deviated septum causes your nose to become obstructed very easily, causing difficulty in breathing, which can reduce your overall quality of life.

If you suffer from sleep apnea and also have a deviated septum, then the severity of the sleep apnea is determined by how bent your septum is, the form of sleep apnea you suffer from and the severity of your symptoms.

It is very important to consult a doctor and get treatment for both sleep apnea and deviated septum because if either condition is ignored for too long, it can lead to serious problems.

Treatment Options for Deviated Septum Sleep Apnea

If you suffer from a deviated septum and sleep apnea and are looking for options that can help to treat both conditions, then here are a few treatment options:

Non-Surgical Treatments

Nasal Strips

Using an adhesive nasal strip can help to open up your nasal passageways and provide relief from sleep apnea caused by a deviated septum.


You can use antihistamines, decongestants and nasal steroids to treat the symptoms of a deviated septum. While these medications may not treat the deviated septum problem directly, they can help to reduce the effects that the sinus problems have on the deviated septum, as well as sleep apnea.

Surgical Treatments

Balloon Sinuplasty

This is a minor procedure that is suitable for mild sinus or nasal obstructions. The procedure involves inserting a small balloon into the nasal cavity and inflating it to open the nasal passages to restore proper drainage of the sinuses.

This procedure is minimally invasive as it does not require any incisions, thus reducing the discomfort, as well as the recovery time significantly and it can be performed under local anesthesia right in the doctor’s office.


Turbinates are essentially located inside the nose and are made of soft tissue and bone. The turbinates warm the air you breathe and humidify it. The space between the turbinates and septum is very narrow and it is quite difficult for the air to enter.

And, if the turbinate has an overgrowth of the soft tissue or bone, then breathing through your nose can become even more difficult. Turbinoplasty is the process where a part of the turbinate is removed surgically, which helps to widen the passage so that you can breathe properly.

Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

Also known as FESS, functional endoscopic sinus surgery is not as invasive as regular sinus surgery and the recovery time after the procedure is much shorter. FESS is very effective when it comes to correcting and removing sinus blockages. Usually, sinus and nasal polyps are removed using this procedure.


This is a surgical procedure, where a small incision is made in the septum and the misaligned cartilage and bone are then straightened. And, when this is done and the septum is corrected, it allows you to breathe properly through your nose.

CPAP Therapy for Sleep Apnea

As we have seen, septum deviation does not cause sleep apnea; however, it can worsen the condition. Treatment for a deviated septum can help to relieve the symptoms and ease your breathing, thus helping the condition of sleep apnea too. However, if you suffer from sleep apnea, then it is important to get treated for it.

CPAP therapy has become a popular and effective method for the treatment of sleep apnea. CPAP devices comprise a small machine that produces pressurized air, which is delivered via a tube and a face mask and helps to keep your airways open through the night while you sleep, enabling you to breathe easily.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, if you snore while you sleep or have problems breathing or sleeping, then you may be suffering from a deviated septum that may be causing your sleep apnea to worsen. So, if you’re struggling with any of the above problems, then it is a good idea to consult a doctor immediately.


Dan was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2017 when he was only 32 years old. He has been using a BIPAP machine for his treatment. He hopes to provide a patient's perspective on the sleep apnea experience. Dan lives in Tampa with his girlfriend and 2 dogs.

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