Why Do I Have A Hard Time Breathing Without Deviated Septum?

If i breathe through my nose i get light headed quickly. I've never had nasal trauma and my septum seems symmetrical, the issue is the airway passages are super narrow. Like little slits between the bone and septum. Would rhinoplasty fix this and if so would this be considered medical and covered by Insurance?

Doctor Answers 10

Cause of Nasal Obstruction Besides Deviated Septum

Kris, there are a number of other potential causes of obstruction besides having a deviated nasal septum. For example, enlarged turbinates can contribute to a blocked nasal passageway. In addition, a condition called valve stenosis can also give the feeling that you cannot breathe properly through your nose. You need to be evaluated by an expert in functional nose surgery - like a facial plastic surgeon with ENT training. Attached below is a link to a page on my website that discusses possible insurance coverage for nose surgery. I hope it provides some help to you.

San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Nasal Airway Obstruction without Septal Deviation

It is not uncommon to see nasal airway obstruction without deviation if one has a narrow nasal dorsum, a narrow internal nasal valve, or weak alar rims. These can be corrected operatively with spreader grafts and/or correction of the nasal airway with alar contour grafts.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

Why do I have a hard time breathing without deviated septum?

Insurance typically covers issues that are functional in nature. There are other issues besides a deviated septum that can impair your breathing. Depending on your insurance company, they may cover some or all of the functional portion of your surgery. Any cosmetic issues would be billed separately. Without photos or performing an exam, it is difficult to give you any precise advice. I would recommend seeking the advice of a board certified specialist in your area. 

Paul S. Nassif, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Why do I have a hard time breathing without a deviated septum?

 Hello, and sorry to hear you are having trouble breathing. There can be a number of things that can impair your breathing which may include the following:

1) Internal nasal obstruction
2) Narrow airway
3) Deviated septum
4) Pinched nostrils
5) Internal nasal swelling

A thorough exam by a board certified facial plastic surgeon would be a good next step. They will be able to determine the cause of your impaired breathing, and confirm whether or not this is due to a narrow airway. Rhinoplasty may open up your airway but sometimes additional procedures may need to be performed, such as a septoplasty or turbinate reduction. Depending on your insurance, it is possible they will cover your surgery if it is performed to improve your breathing. Changes that are cosmetic in nature are not covered by insurance. I hope this helps, and good luck to you.

Jonathan Kulbersh, MD
Charlotte Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Narrow nasal passages

The nasal passages can be narrow at the nasal valve area even without any trauma or surgery in the past. However, the first step in improving the nasal breathing is a 'CORRECT DIAGNOSIS'. You should see an Otolaryngologist to figure out what exactly is causing the problem. Here is a list of common problems;

1. Deviated nasal septum (It can be deep inside the nose where you need a fiberoptic scope to see it, just looking in might not show the whole length of the septum)

2. Large turbinate glands (likely from allergies)

3. Narrow nasal valve

4. Polyps

5. Tumors

6. Foreign bodies

7. Large Adenoid glands


Dr J

Disclaimer: This answer is not intended to give a medical opinion and does not substitute for medical advice. The information presented in this posting is for patients’ education only. As always, I encourage you to see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Tanveer Janjua, MD
Bedminster Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 106 reviews

Breathing issues

There are many possible causes of breathing difficulty.  Some are obstructive due to the septum, turbinates, valves, etc.. Some are chemical like allergies, autoimmune, etc...  I good nasal evaluation is critical.  If is not obstructive problem then it may be dificult to treat.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Difficulty Breathing through the Nose

There are several factors that can contribute to difficulty breathing through the nose other than a deviated septum.  A thorough evaluation of the inside of your nose is recommended to help determine the cause of your problem followed by a plan to help improve your breathing.  Please consult with a facial plastic surgeon with training in head and neck surgery who can assist you in helping your breathe through the nose and achieving the result you seek.

Kimberly Lee, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Nasal obstruction

 There are many different causes of nasal obstruction such as a deviated nasal septum, valve collapse, vestibular stenosis, allergies and turbinate hypertrophy. At time of consultation and examination of the internal portion of the nose, a treatment plan can be formulated  that consists of  prescription nasal sprays, antihistamines, decongestants or surgical repair to improve  any functional  issues. Surgery to improve airflow through the nose is performed for medical reasons and is billed to the patient's medical insurance. A rhinoplasty  is done for cosmetic purposes to change the shape of the nose and is paid for by the patient themselves.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 145 reviews

Why Do I Have A Hard Time Breathing Without Deviated Septum?

It is impossible to know why you're having trouble breathing without evaluating your nose. However, the common reasons for difficulty with nasal breathing include:

  • Deviated septum
  • Nasal valve collapse
  • Enlarged turbinates
  • Narrow nasal opening
  • Combination of some/ all of the above

These issues can be addressed surgically but it's impossible to say which procedures would be effective without an evaluation. I hope this information is helpful.

Stephen Weber MD, FACS

Lone Tree Facial Plastic Surgeon

Stephen Weber, MD, FACS
Denver Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 129 reviews

Internal Nasal Valve Issues

   If your internal nasal valves are narrowed, this could be remedied by spreader grafts to open the area.   It would be necessary to examine you for the other causes of nasal obstruction.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 496 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.