enlargement or swelling
Hypertrophy or enlargement of the turbinates is one of the most common causes of nasal obstruction. A turbinate is a tube like structure in the nose which has a lining that is capable of swelling or shrinking.
Since there is one turbinate on each side of the nose, they are capable of acting independently. Many patients have noticed how their symptoms can alternate sides; the turbinates generally play a role when this is the case.
As seen below, there are actually 3 sets of turbinates: superior, middle, and inferior. Rarely patients can have a 4th set – the supreme turbinate. Only the inferior turbinates affect airflow through the nose however.
Generally the turbinates are responding to things in the air, such as allergies, temperature, atmospheric pressure etc. The easiest target to alliviate turbinate swelling If the turbinates are swollen, your doctor may recommend medications for you. For many patients, medications can help reduce the size of the turbinates and can help improve their nasal obstruction. If you have troublesome symptoms even after using medications, you may be a candidate for surgery to shrink the size of your turbinates.