A deviated nasal septum is quite common in the general population and is often asymptomatic, but some individuals can develop chronic nasal obstruction, recurrent epistaxis and are predisposed to chronic sinusitis. The diagnosis can be made during physical examination and through imaging procedures.
More than 60% of the adult population is estimated to suffer from a deviated nasal septum according to certain reports , but the clinical presentation varies depending on the location and severity of nasal septum deviation. Individuals may often be asymptomatic, but the most common signs include epistaxis, increased nasal crusting, altered nasal respiration and the necessity for mouth breathing due to obstruction of the nasal canal, and chronic or recurrent sinusitis, which is frequently encountered among patients in whom deviation causes obstruction of the ostium of the paranasal sinus   . Repetitive sneezing, snoring and sleep apnea are also reported, while less common symptoms include facial pain, variable loss of olfaction and headaches . Recent trauma to the nose and face is the key risk factor for deviation, but congenital causes may be responsible as well. Neonates and infants commonly develop deviation of the nasal septum due to trauma during vaginal delivery , and in this population, poor feeding and choking due to the presence of food in the respiratory tract are reported in the case of a severe deviation, in addition to nasal obstruction and epistaxis . Various anatomical anomalies, such as increased anterior facial height, mandible with increased overjet and constricted transverse maxillary dimension and a retrognathic maxilla have been documented in patients suffering from nasal septum deviation .
The diagnosis rests on suspecting a deviated nasal septum based on signs and symptoms that are reported by the patient, which is why a detailed patient history can often provide sufficient clues to develop clinical suspicion. Information about recent trauma, chronicity of symptoms, as well as their severity, can be helpful. A thorough physical examination comprised of a full ear, nose, and throat evaluation should follow, and anterior rhinoscopy or nasal endoscopy can confirm the diagnosis, as they provide a direct view into the nasal cavity . Additional procedures have been proposed in the workup, including acoustic rhinometry (evaluation of the nasal cavity by means of acoustic reflection), rhinomanometry (a procedure that measures the resistance of the nasal cavity) and nasal spectral sound analysis, but their specificity and sensitivity remain to be solidified in regular practice . More advanced imaging studies, such as computed tomography (CT), may be useful for preoperative assessment and determination of potential anatomical anomalies, but they are not superior to the standard physical examination when it comes to detecting a deviated nasal septum .