Questions to Ask the ENT at Your First Visit for Deviated Septum
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Most people with a deviated septum aren’t aware it exists. It doesn’t pose a problem to their breathing or lifestyle. Other folks aren’t so lucky. Chances are if you are seeing the ear, nose and throat specialist for problems with a deviated septum it is because you have been referred by your primary physician.
While most people never notice any symptoms, others have real problems with breathing and sleeping as a result of a deviated septum. It’s time to see the ENT when you have the following symptoms:
- Obstructed nostril making breathing difficult
- Noisy breathing during sleep
- Problems with sleeping
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Chronic sinusitis
Preparing for the visit
The ENT will want to know about any past medical treatments you may have had as well as details about your symptoms. Since you may be nervous in the examining room, it helps to jot this information down in advance. In particular be sure to include:
- How long the obstruction has been present
- History of facial injuries
- If one side of your nose is worse than the other
- History of allergies
- If the use of nasal adhesive strips helps.
Your ENT will want to know if you are currently taking any prescription medication. Take a moment to prepare a list of your medication names, dosages and how long you have been taking each medication. Don’t forget to include all the dietary supplements and vitamins you take as well.
What to expect during the ENT visit
The ENT will thoroughly examine the inside of your nose. He will use a bright light to aid in the examination. In addition, don’t be surprised if he makes use of a nasal speculum to spread your nostrils. It might look weird, but it won’t hurt. The ENT may even use an endoscope to see all the way to the back of your nasal passages. As part of the examination, a decongestant may be sprayed and then another examination performed to compare any differences.
Questions to ask the ENT
Communication is a two-way street. During or after the examination you will want to ask the ENT such questions as:
- What could be the cause of my deviated septum?
- Based on the diagnosis, what is the best course of action?
- What are the alternatives if the best course is not effective?
- Are there changes I need to make to my lifestyle?
The first line of treatment for a deviated septum is using medication to manage nasal tissue swelling and drainage. Antihistamines, decongestants and nasal steroid sprays may be prescribed. Make sure that you completely understand all dosing instructions. If a spray is prescribed, be sure to ask the proper way to use the spray. You may be surprised by the ENT’s instructions.
Of course always ask if a generic equivalent is available for any branded drug.
Finally, ask what follow up visits or procedures are necessary. Your ENT is a partner in your care and will be more than happy to answer your questions. If medical intervention is not effective, be prepared to discuss septoplasty surgery to reshape or repair the septum.