Can deviated nasal septum cause sleep apnea?


Can deviated septum cause sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a common sleep problem characterized by breathing pauses while asleep. A deviated septum, a disorder where the thin wall (nasal septum) between your nostrils is moved to one side, producing blockage in the nasal channel, is one possible contributing reason to sleep apnea. In this post, we’ll explore the connection between sleep apnea and a deviated septum.

Understanding Sleep Apnea

A disorder that affects millions of individuals worldwide is sleep apnea. If left untreated, it can have a major negative influence on one’s quality of life and result in major health issues. Sleep apnea is primarily classified into two types:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea. It occurs when the muscles in the throat relax excessively, blocking the airway.

Central Sleep Apnea

This less frequent kind of sleep apnea happens when the brain cannot communicate correctly with the muscles that regulate breathing.

Deviated Septum: A Common Nasal Disorder

When the nasal septum is shifted or deviated to one side, it is known as a deviated septum. Trauma, birth abnormality, or progressive wear and tear over time can all cause it. While some people with a deviated septum may not have any symptoms, others may experience the following symptoms:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Recurrent sinus infections
  • Nosebleeds

Can Deviated Septum Cause Sleep Apnea?

Even though a deviated septum may not be the primary cause of sleep apnea, it can worsen symptoms already present, especially in obstructive sleep apnea instances. How to do it is as follows:

Nasal Congestion

A deviated septum can cause chronic nasal congestion, which makes breathing through the nose difficult. As a result, people may be forced to breathe through their lips as they sleep, which raises the risk of obstructive sleep apnea episodes.

Increased Airway Resistance

When muscles are relaxed during sleep, the obstruction from a deviated septum can increase airway resistance. This increased resistance can exacerbate upper airway collapse, a defining feature of obstructive sleep apnea, and snoring.

Compromised Sleep Quality

Nasal congestion and difficulty breathing can disrupt sleep quality, leading to fragmented sleep and exacerbating sleep apnea symptoms.

Diagnosis and Treatment

It’s critical to get medical attention if you think your deviated septum is causing sleep apnea or other sleep-related problems. A medical professional, usually an otolaryngologist (a specialist in the ears, nose, and throat), can identify a deviated septum by physical examination and may suggest further testing, such as imaging investigations or nasal endoscopy.

Treatment options for a deviated septum and its potential impact on sleep apnea may include:

Nasal Decongestants

Nasal congestion may be momentarily relieved by over-the-counter or prescription nasal decongestants.

Nasal corticosteroids

These drugs help facilitate better airflow by reducing nasal canal inflammation.


Surgery to straighten the nasal septum may be advised if the deviation is severe enough to affect breathing and quality of life.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy

CPAP therapy may be recommended for those with sleep apnea and a deviated septum. With CPAP, the patient wears a mask attached to a machine that continuously blows air into their airway to keep it open as they sleep.

Also Read: Can you have Sleep Apnea without Snoring? Find Now


Although a deviated septum may not be the primary cause of sleep apnea, it can exacerbate symptoms already present, especially obstructive sleep apnea. It is essential to seek a medical examination and suitable treatment for a deviated septum to improve sleep quality, nasal airflow, and general well-being. If you think that your deviated septum is affecting your ability to sleep, speak with a healthcare provider for individualized advice and treatment options.

Written by

Dr Hoorain

Hoorain Batul is a passionate and experienced writer specializing in gynecology, obstetrics, fashion, and women's wellness. Hailing from Pakistan, she holds an MBBS degree, having completed her studies in 2011, and has furthered her expertise with FCPS Part 1 and 2. With a deep understanding of women's health and a keen eye for fashion, Hoorain brings a unique perspective to her content, providing valuable insights and empowering women with knowledge to lead healthier and more fashionable lives. Her content is a hub of informative and engaging articles, catering to the diverse needs of women worldwide.