Frequently Asked Questions > General ENT Questions > What if my doctor recommends inferior turbinate reduction?

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The inferior turbinates are torpedo like structures in each side of the nose, attached to the outside walls and typically is what you see if you look into your nose. The septum is the dividing wall separating right and left sides of the nose. The turbinates get larger with infections, colds or allergies. Blood fills the vessels in the turbinate to make them larger. Decongestants, (pseudophed or phenylephrine) allow a person to breath better through their nose by constricting (shrinking) the blood vessels. The nose has a normal nasal cycle. An inferior turbinate will enlarge on one side of the nose to allow for re-humidification while more air goes through the other side. Approximately, 20 minutes later, the nose switches and the other side congests and re-humidifies. A person should not be so stuffy that they notice this cycle. A deviated septum, and/or large turbinates can cause difficulty breathing through the nose. Not all crooked septums cause symptoms so they would not require surgery. Allergy management and treatment of infection will shrink the inferior turbinates avoiding surgery as well. If surgery is performed on the turbinates, one must be cautious not to shrink the turbinates too extensively. Over-reduction may lead to the inability of the nose to humidify. This can lead to a very dry nose.

Last updated on February 16, 2010 by Web Manager