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What Are Inferior Turbinates?

Inferior nasal turbinates are located inside your nose on either side of your nasal septum. They are bone covered with erectile soft tissue that helps create turbulence inside the nose to warm, purify and humidify the air that we breathe. The soft tissue covering expands and contracts which can give you the sensation of congestion and clear breathing, respectively.

What Is Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy?

When the delicate soft tissue covering the inferior nasal turbinate gets irritated it will swell and can block airflow inside the nose. When this becomes chronic then the inferior turbinates can grow to a size where the airflow is obstructed much or all of the time inside the nose.

What Else Can Block My Breathing?

There are many conditions that can obstruct airflow in the nose. A deviated septum or enlarged inferior turbinates are two of the more common causes. You may also have nasal valve collapse which is an extreme narrowing of the already narrow areas inside the nose. Nasal polyps can block airflow as well.

Causes Of Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy

Viral and bacterial infections including sinusitis can cause severe nasal congestion. Allergies cause the nose to swell also blocking breathing. Rare causes include tumors or autoimmune disorders. Your otolaryngologist can look inside your nose and let you know what is causing your congestion.

Common Signs And Symptoms

Some of the symptoms of nasal turbinate hypertrophy include:

  • Altered sense of smell
  • Forehead pressure and facial pain
  • Chronic nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Snoring

Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy Risk Factors

Common risk factors of nasal turbinate hypertrophy include:

  • Living in an urban dense population
  • Constant seasonal change
  • Constant temperature changes

How Can I Medically Treat Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy?

Avoiding anything you are allergic to or taking antihistamines may help reduce nasal congestion caused by allergies. Saline rinses can wash out dust and mucous from the nose that may make your breathing better. Discontinuing medications that cause nasal congestion can help you breathe better as well. Decongestant pills or sprays can open the nose but may cause increased blood pressure or rebound congestion. Nasal steroids can also decrease swelling inside of the nose. Montelukasts can decrease nasal congestion as well.

Inferior Turbinate Surgery

If medications and avoiding allergens do not improve your breathing you may need to surgically reduce the turbinate size.  If the soft tissue covering is swollen then it can be reduced with shrinking the mucosa of the fronts of the turbinates. This can be done with techniques including laser, microwave or heating. If the bone has expanded then fracturing the bone laterally or removing some of the bone can open the airway.  A combination of bone removal and soft tissue removal can provide more opening of the airway. Caution should be exercised not to shrink the turbinates too far as this can cause an unnatural sensation of the nose being “too open”. You will be prescribed medication and you may experience some nausea or vomiting after surgery and if you do you should only eat and drink clear liquids. You will probably be dizzy or drowsy after your surgery.

How Can We Help?

Dr. Moustafa Mourad is an expert in all types of nasal surgery and inferior turbinate reduction. An evaluation at our upper east side practice will let you know what is obstructing your nose and what can be done to improve your airway. Dr. Mourad will take a comprehensive history and perform an examination of your head and neck that involves a thorough examination of the inside of your nose and throat.

Does Insurance Help With Nasal Turbinate Reduction?

Yes. Most insurances will cover the cost of inferior turbinate reduction. Our office will check your benefits for you and let you know what they are before your first visit. Please feel free to give us a call and let us know how we can help you.

Meet Moustafa Mourad, MD, FACS

Moustafa Mourad, MD, FACS is board-certified in head and neck surgery and highly-trained in cosmetic plastic surgery and facial reconstruction. Dr. Mourad is also a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He treats many conditions, both cosmetic and complex, that affect the head, neck... Learn More »

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