Is a Deviated Septum Affecting Your Health?

Recently, I deviated from my everyday routine in the marketing department to learn more about my nasal septum! See what I did there?

In all seriousness, I’ve known that I have a deviated septum for some time now, so I wanted to learn more about the condition of a deviated septum and how we at the ENT Institute can help people who have serious sinus concerns as a result of one. That’s why I scheduled a deviated septum consultation with one of our experts, Dr. Dan Carothers!

Dr. Dan Carothers, M.D. – F.A.C.S.

Dr. Dan Carothers is a board-certified otolaryngologist treating adult ENT disorders with a focus on nasal, sinus, allergy, snoring and sleep apnea, acid reflux, dizziness conditions, and more. Dr. Carothers received his otolaryngology training at the top-ranked University of Iowa, where he studied under national leaders in his field. He completed a fellowship in rhinology at Northwestern Nasal and Sinus and became clinical faculty of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago, where he practiced for 10 years. Dr. Carothers is passionate about the practice of medicine and the responsibility entailed. He finds the personal interaction with patients particularly rewarding in that he has the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of his patients and the community.


What Is a Deviated Septum?

The nasal septum is the wall that divides your nostrils into two parts. It allows the air that we breathe in to go directly from the tip of the nose to the back and into the lungs.

deviated septum is when the nasal septum is displaced, often leaning (or deviated) to one side, making one of the nasal passages smaller. A deviated septum may lead to issues with breathing or other forms of nasal obstruction.

Personal Concerns:

As a child, I was aware that the cartilage in my nose was crooked. My older sister used to playfully tease me about it from time to time. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I learned about deviated septums, and it wasn’t until I started working here over a year ago that I realized there could be more going on with my sinuses. I decided to make a consultation because over the last year, I’ve noticed that I struggle with breathing as well as a constant  stuffy/runny nose. My symptoms never felt life-threatening, but I’ve also never experienced anything else. I’m a constant mouth breather, and I often find cardio exercises more challenging due to breathing difficulties. I’ve even had several people ask me if I’m crying simply because I have the sniffles so often. 

I met with Dr. Carothers at our Alpharetta location. The office is on the second floor, and it’s the first one you see when you take a right out of the elevator! Upon arrival, I noticed the facility was clean, the waiting area had plenty of space for people to sit, and the staff were all friendly and welcoming. Even as an employee, I don’t know everyone. It was nice to see that people were kind, thoughtful, and shared their enthusiasm about meeting me. 

I arrived about 10 minutes early for my appointment. I got checked in and was called back promptly at the time of my appointment. The medical assistant came into the room to take my vitals and asked a few questions to better understand what was going on. She took notes then informed me that Dr. Carothers would be with me shortly. 

After only a couple of minutes, I was greeted by Dr. Carothers. He was pleasant and cheerful and made a silly joke about getting to pick my nose! I love that our providers have great personalities they’re willing to share with the staff and our patients. 

The consultation was pretty quick after that. Dr. Carothers looked at my nasal passages with a device called a “scope.” This device has a camera attached that helps him look into each of my nostrils/nasal passages, so he can see more clearly what is going on inside. As he was looking, he walked me through the whole process. He informed me that the thin top part of the scope would go up my nasal passages, and I’d feel some pressure. It didn’t hurt at all! I actually found the scope tickled when he pulled it out, and I made a very embarrassing, almost giddy, laughing noise. So, be prepared to chuckle like a 4 year old.  

As Dr. Carothers began describing what he saw inside my nasal passages, he informed me of the 3 things he believed were most important to look at:

  1. Structure (of the nose)
  2. Turbinates (inside the nose) 
  3. Allergies

He went on to confirm that I had a deviated septum, one that leans to both sides but predominantly to the left. He also said I have enlarged turbinates (see image above). The turbinates are swollen and could be affecting how I breathe.

Dr. Carothers also asked me about my allergies. I had recently taken an allergy test and knew which allergens I was allergic to. Knowing and understanding how your allergies can play a role in your sinuses, especially if you’re struggling with a stuffy or runny nose, is crucial. It’s likely that the congestion I’ve been experiencing often comes from my allergies and since I’m not treating those consistently right now, Dr. Carothers recommended scheduling allergy immunotherapy as a long-term solution in the future.

CT Testing

Dr. Carothers encouraged me to get a CT scan done while I was at the office. CT scans are used in ear, nose, and throat practices for the evaluation of chronic sinusitis, dizziness, and chronic ear disease, among other conditions. Dr. Carothers wanted to get a more detailed look at my sinuses to see what’s truly going on in there. CT scans have traditionally been performed in a hospital, but the cool thing about the ENT Institute is that everything is right in one office. You don’t need a referral or have to travel between several locations. I walked down the hallway and was able to get a CT scan within minutes! It was convenient, fast, accurate, and cost-effective.

Dr. Carothers shared the images of my scans on the computer in the CT room. He showed me where my turbinates were enlarged and explained how I wasn’t getting full capacity of airflow in through my nostrils. During this time, Dr. Carothers was very thorough but he also allowed room for me to ask questions if needed. He then shared the best options moving forward. 

  1. One option is a turbinate reduction and a septal swell body reduction, which is a simple office procedure that lasts about 20 minutes. It’s a non-cutting, non-surgical way to improve breathing and only takes a couple of days to recover.
  2. For more dramatic improvements to breathing, I can undergo what is called a septoplasty – a surgical procedure to straighten the bone and cartilage dividing the space between your two nostrils (septum). This procedure would include a longer recovery time, but I would get the best possible results for breathing better.


Overall, I was really impressed by the appointment itself. Dr. Carothers is extremely knowledgeable about deviated septums and all things sinus-related. He helped me better understand what was going on with my nasal passages, and he also had me in and out of the office quickly without making me feel rushed. I went back to the exam room promptly at 2:40pm, and I was walking out to leave the office before 3:20pm. I learned a great amount about my own sinus issues and would certainly recommend anyone feeling confused or full of questions (sinus or other ENT-related) to schedule a consultation with one of our amazing providers at any of our 14 convenient locations.

I am still deciding on what treatment route to consider. I think I would like to get a septoplasty somewhere down the line, and who knows, maybe I will share that experience with you all here as well!

To schedule an appointment at the ENT Institute, call (770) 740-1860 or click here.