Inside your nose are three pairs of built-in air filters called turbinates. When they are healthy, turbinates help regulate the temperature and level of moisture inside your nose. If your turbinates become swollen or enlarged, which is a common symptom of summer allergies, they can cause a nasal blockage and make breathing difficult. There are a number of treatment options to reduce their size, including surgery.
Seasonal allergies can cause the bone or soft tissue of the turbinates to swell and become enlarged. In addition to making it harder to breathe through your nose, symptoms include:
- Altered sense of smell
- Dry mouth
- Forehead pressure
- Facial pain
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
Treating Swollen Turbinates
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may recommend at-home treatment, medication or surgery.
- Remove excess dust and pet dander
- Use mattress and pillow covers
- Stop smoking
- Eliminate buildups of mold and mildew
- Invest in a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter
- Oral decongestants
- Nasal decongestants
Decongestants should not be used on a regular basis, as they can raise your blood pressure and cause bleeding. They also become ineffective over time.
Coblation can shrink the turbinate size using heat or energy waves, without requiring the removal of bone or tissue. A needle-like device is used; the procedures requires local anesthesia and takes about 10 minutes.
One study looked to determine the safety and effectiveness of coblation. The researchers followed 26 adults with enlarged turbinates for six months after their coblation procedure. They saw a significant reduction in nasal symptoms at three and six months following the procedure.
For severe nasal blockage, turbinate surgery may be required. Performed under general anesthesia, bone beneath the turbinate is removed in order to reduce its size. Tissue may also be shaved away to further open up the nasal cavity.
To learn more about how to reduce your summer allergy symptoms or to schedule an appointment, contact Albany ENT & Allergy Services today.