Dr. Ludwick speaking about one of the most common causes of nasal congestion — big inferior turbinates. What are inferior turbinates? Inferior turbinates are what make our nose special. The reason we want to breathe through our nose is that it warms the air, it humidifies the air, and it cleans the air.
The inferior turbinate is an organ that comes off the sidewall of the nose and adds surface area to the naval cavity. If you turn the head sideways, you’ll see that the inferior turbinate goes from the front of the nose to the back of the nose — the entire length of the nasal cavity. We have three sets of turbinates: superior, middle, and inferior. But the turbinate most involved in nasal congestion is the inferior turbinate.
When we breathe through our nose, air passes over the turbinate, so water can efficiently evaporate into the air and condition the air for us. When we have big inferior turbinates, it blocks the airflow through our nose. Turbinates can swell for lots of reasons. Sometimes they’re just big and sometimes it’s due to things like nasal allergies. When the turbinate swells, it takes up a lot of room in the nasal cavity, and you just can’t get the air through your nose.
Afrin and Sudafed are nasal decongestants that constrict the blood vessels of the turbinate and literally squeeze the blood out of the turbinate. They take a grape and turns it into a raisin temporarily. So while the turbinate is nice and small, you can breath great, until the medication wears off and then they swell again.
Fortunately, we have great and easy ways to treat inferior nasal turbinates, called turbinate reduction. So just like you can make the turbinate smaller by using chemicals such as Afrin or oral decongestants, we can also make that turbinate smaller with simple office procedures.
The great thing about the office procedure is that it’s permanent. It allows you to breathe through your nose all the time without having to rely on topical or oral decongestants.
If you’re feeling congested or having a difficult time breathing, please call our office today and schedule an appointment. We want you to feel better now!