Turbinates are two spongy bone structures that protrude into the nasal passages and directs airflow inside the nose.The purpose of the turbinates is to warm and humidify the air we breathe, as well as filter out airborne irritants such as dust or other allergens. When turbinate hypertrophy occurs, there is swelling and congestion of the turbinates. There are three sets of turbinates in each side of the nose: the inferior, middle and superior.
The inferior turbinate, which is located closest to the nasal opening, is the largest and most important turbinate. The most commonly affected turbinate is the inferior turbinate, which can enlarge and increase blood flow to the mucous membrane lining. This is what causes the swelling and congestion that occurs in turbinate hypertrophy.
When the middle turbinates become enlarged, they will develop an air filled pocket within the bone, which is referred to “concha bullosa”. This can sometimes lead to blockage of the natural sinus drainage pathways, leading to recurrent or chronic sinus infections.
Turbinate Hypertrophy Symptoms
The symptoms of enlarged turbinates may include:
Blocked nasal airflow
Recurrent or chronic sinus infections
Turbinate Hypertrophy Diagnosis
In order to diagnose turbinate hypertrophy your ENT will take note of medical history and perform a physical exam. This may be done by using a nasal speculum, or by performing a nasal endoscopy depending on the nature of your symptoms.
Turbinate Hypertrophy Treatments
Turbinate hypertrophy is usually treated with easy to use oral and topical nasal medications to reduce swelling and inflammation. Allergy testing may be recommended as well. If medication does not improve your turbinate hypertrophy then surgical correction, known as a turbinate reduction, may be recommended.