Can a Deviated Septum Ruin Your Social Life?

Is it possible that my frequent problems with bad breath could be caused by a deviated septum?

Do you remember the last time you had bad breath? We are all susceptible. Sometimes we even make a conscious decision to risk it when we know better but still decide to order our favorite spicy food anyway. Onions and garlic are well-known perpetrators but so are curries and tuna fish. That morning coffee that gets your day started and the cocktail or glass of wine that helps you wind down in the evening are also contributors to bad breath. Both of these substances reduce saliva, which then promotes the growth of odor-producing bacteria in the mouth.    

The good news is that this kind of bad breath is short-term or transient. If you don’t consume the offending food or beverage, the bad breath never materializes. Of far more concern is bad breath that is ongoing rather than occasional and related to a particular action. Consistently being plagued by the unpleasant odor of bad breath is much more serious than simply being embarrassed: it can make social and professional interactions difficult, if not impossible, and significantly reduce quality of life.

Poor dental hygiene leading to cavities and gum disease, as well as medical conditions like diabetes, postnasal drip, liver and kidney disease, allergies, chronic bronchitis and acid reflux can all be responsible for bad breath. None of these should be ignored and seeking treatment should also address the accompanying breath problems.

Bad Breath Due to a Deviated Septum

What a lot of people are not aware of is that the reason for their chronic breath issues may be due to a deviated septum, which is often responsible for ongoing or frequently recurring bouts of sinusitis or sinus infections. The nasal septum is what the separates the nasal cavity into two chambers that, ideally, are the same size. Most people, around 4 out of 5, have some irregularity due to the septum being off-center to a slight degree, but it does not create a problem. For those people who the nasal septum has shifted to a more extreme degree, breathing is affected, and the chances for infection are greatly increased. This particular structural defect is called a deviated septum.

Symptoms of a Deviated Septum

Because the breathing passages are easily blocked, allowing mucus build-up to create an environment perfect for bacterial growth, chronic sinusitis is often present. This can result in many of the following symptoms:


  • Bad breath
  • Loss of ability to smell
  • Coughing, especially when trying to sleep
  • Nasal stuffiness and discharge
  • Sinus pressure and pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Toothache
  • Postnasal drip
  • Sore throat
  • Deviated Septum Treatment Options

Septoplasty, which is the surgical procedure used to repair defects of the septum, is often the best option. Your doctor may first suggest trying non-surgical methods, such as decongestants, antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays. If these are unsuccessful, surgery will likely be recommended. While the surgical repair of a deviated symptom will not cure related issues like allergies, if the deviated septum is the cause for the chronic issues with infection, then the surgery should relieve the related symptoms, including the problem with bad breath.

Dr. Brian D. Cohen is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with extensive training in cosmetic/reconstructive plastic surgery and has had years of experience performing a wide array of cosmetic surgery procedures, specializing in procedures of the face, eyes, nose, breast and body and is known for his exemplary and compassionate care by his patients. Knowing that Dr. Cohen has been selected by his peers in Super Doctors for 6 years in a row in 2018 gives you the confidence that he is highly respected for his performance in his specialty.

Information on locations and office hours for Cohen Plastic Surgery can be found by clicking here.