Inferior Turbinates: what are they, why do they swell, stuffy nose, congestion, how do we treat

This video is about Inferior Turbinates

Small bones in the nose covered in soft tissue that can swell and cause congestion or stuffiness

Turbinates swell with allergies, head colds, lying down

Can be treated with nasal sprays or oral medications. Afrin or Sudafed can both give immediate relief, but should not be used more than a few days only due to addictive effects and other possible side effects.

Nasal steroids (Flonase, Nasacort, Nasonex, Rhinocort, etc) are most commonly used and are safe for longer term use. Can be used as needed, or daily depending on the underlying cause.

Managing allergies can make a huge difference. Avoid allergens (the things you are allergic to), potentially taking allergy medications, or even getting immunotherapy (allergy shots).

Can be shrunk with a variety of procedures in the office or in the operating room. Most common is to use a microdebrider suction device (like liposuction) or some energy device (submucous cautery, coblation) to shrink the turbinates. Sometimes, portions of the bone can also be removed.

We do not recommend removing the entire turbinate or to damage or remove large portions of the pink lining (mucosa) because it helps heat, humidify, and filter the air that we breathe. Doing “too much” causes a lot of dryness and crusting. It also creates an “empty nose” sensation.

Sometimes we also outfracture the turbinate bone – or push it to the sides of the nose.

Turbinate procedures can be done alone or in combination with other procedures such as septoplasty, adenoidectomy, sinus surgery.

Most turbinate procedures only take a few minutes. Recovery only takes about a week or so.

Saline sprays or irrigation help the healing and keep the nose clear and moist.

Over-the-counter pain medications are usually enough.

Medical Disclaimer: All comments are generalizations and intended to be for educational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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