The human body contains three pairs of turbinates—long, curled nasal bones that warm and humidify inhaled air and regulate breathing through the nasal passages. The turbinates are on both sides of the nose and are classified as inferior, middle, and superior. The two sides are separated by the septum. When they become swollen and enlarged, they can interfere with breathing.
Treating Swollen Turbinates
The turbinates are crucial in allowing us to breathe properly. Allergies, viral infections, exposure to environmental irritants, and a deviated septum can cause them to swell. Inferior turbinates that swell to the point where they cause a nasal obstruction are known as hypertrophic turbinates.
Symptoms may be mild to severe. Minor cases may respond successfully to over-the-counter decongestants, but these bring temporary relief and should not be continued for more than three or four days or they can cause symptoms to worsen. Topical nasal steroids and sprays may also be effective, and antibiotics are occasionally useful in treating congestion caused by sinusitis. But in many cases, medical treatment is ineffective; hypertrophic turbinates often require surgery.
Turbinate Reduction Surgical Procedures
A number of surgical procedures are effective in reducing the size of the inferior turbinate, clearing up the airway to eliminate any associated breathing or sinus problems. These include the following:
- Turbinate Resection. This procedure involves removing part of the inferior turbinate while widening the nasal airway. Submucous resection aims to preserve the mucosa of the turbinate in order to reduce side effects.
- Radiofrequency. A probe delivers heat generated from high frequency alternating current to reduce the size of the turbinate.
Call Texas ENT & Allergy at (877) 377-4368 for more information or to schedule an appointment.