Although the position of a deviated septum can only be corrected by a surgical procedure, many of the symptoms associated with a deviated septum, such as congestion, can be alleviated with medication.
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To clear the nasal passages and help you breathe more easily, NYU Langone otolaryngologists—also known as ear, nose, and throat, or ENT, doctors—may recommend an over-the-counter nasal rinse or decongestant. For more severe congestion, they may prescribe a corticosteroid spray.
Nasal rinses, also called sinus washes, can be done using a neti pot, bulb syringe, or other irrigation device. These small, handheld devices are filled with salt water, also called saline, that is then squirted or poured into the nose to rinse the nasal cavity. This washes away excess mucus, which may relieve symptoms caused by a deviated septum, such as a stuffy or runny nose or postnasal drip.
Decongestant medications contain ingredients that reduce swelling in the nasal passages and sinuses. These medications may alleviate symptoms such as stuffiness, facial pain or pressure, and headache. Decongestants can be applied as a nasal spray or taken by mouth.
Corticosteroid medications have powerful anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce swelling in the tissue that lines nasal passages and sinuses, making breathing easier even if a septum is deviated. Doctors may recommend using a steroid nasal spray once daily.
If you experience frequent sinus infections and have a deviated septum, your doctor may explore additional medical or surgical treatment options to alleviate sinus symptoms.
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