Turbinates: The Nasal Obstruction Affecting Your Breathing

Turbinates are normal structures in the nose that you’ve probably never heard of.  They are structures made of bone and soft tissue that live at the bottom of the nose along the outside wall of the nasal cavity. 

There are multiple turbinates on both sides of the nose, but the ones that are the most important in nasal breathing are the inferior turbinates.  The soft tissue portions of these structures are dynamic.  They swell and shrink to help regulate airflow within the nose.  However, these can become quite swollen if they get inflamed from irritants or allergies.  The more swollen they are, the more space they take up in the nose and the more nasal obstruction you might feel. 

Medicines may be used to help shrink down swelling and counteract the allergies that may be responsible for the swelling in the first place.  If medicines are not effective, surgery may be performed to reduce the size of the turbinates and reposition them so that it opens up more space in the nose for breathing.  This is often done in conjunction with septoplasty, but can be performed alone.  In many cases it can be performed safely in the office under local anesthesia. 

If you’re having nasal obstruction issues, make an appointment with one of our board-certified ENT specialists for evaluation.