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Clearing the Air: How Royal Oak MI Residents Are Finding Relief with Turbinate Reduction

Alright, Royal Oak. I know how easy it is to get caught up in your busy lifestyle, but now that we have your attention, I want you to take a quick step back from the chaos that often consumes our day-to-day lives. 

Instead, I have a breathing exercise for you:

  1. Gently inhale through your nose for at least two seconds
  2. Hold your breath for at least two seconds
  3. Gently exhale through your nose for at least three seconds
  4. Pinch your nose and hold your breath for as long as you can
  5. Breathe normally through the nose again

After all of that, if you were to describe your breathing in one word, what would that word be? 

Effortless. Refreshing. Calming. Easy. Unobstructed. 

If your answer doesn’t match one of the five listed above, it might be time to schedule an appointment with your local ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor – because it sounds like your turbinates are enlarged.

Nasal Turbinates: The Unsung Heroes of Healthy Breathing

I can probably guess what’s going through your mind right now – what in the world are turbinates? 

Also known as nasal conchae, turbinates are a group of small, bony structures covered in soft tissue and located in the nasal passage. Humans have three of them – the superior, middle, and inferior turbinates.

So, what do the turbinates do? 

The turbinates play an important role in warming and humidifying the air we breathe through our nose, but they also help filter out particles by preventing dust, pollen, and other pollutants from entering the lungs. 

And why does this matter? 

The lungs (and the respiratory system, as a whole) function best when they have clean, filtered, purified, and humidified air to sift through. Without turbinates, the lungs wouldn’t know what pure air looked like. 

But that’s not all…

The turbinates also direct air towards the olfactory epithelium, the small region in the roof of the nasal cavity that contains cells responsible for detecting odors – meaning they contribute to our sense of smell.

Turbinate Hypertrophy: When Breathing Feels Like a Battle

The turbinates do a lot of good for the respiratory system, but they aren’t perfect, and things can go south under the wrong circumstances – especially with the mucous membranes that line the nasal turbinates. 

These mucous membranes contain a host of blood vessels that, when irritated, can become inflamed – meaning they swell up. This usually happens as a result of allergies, infection, or genetic predisposition. 

The problem is simple – swollen turbinates block the airways, which makes it difficult to breathe

There’s good news and bad news. The good news is that most inflammation is temporary and can be resolved rather easily. The bad news is that some cases are more severe – and long-term – than others. 

So, what is turbinate hypertrophy? 

I know it sounds like you won something, but this isn’t a cause for celebration. 

Nasal turbinate hypertrophy refers to chronic swelling of the turbinates – primarily in the inferior (lower) turbinate. Once enlarged, the inferior turbinate could obstruct the airflow coming in and out of the nose. 

Aside from nasal obstruction, the most common symptoms of turbinate hypertrophy include runny noses, post-nasal drip, decreased sense of smell or taste, nasal congestion, snoring, and sinus infections. 

Turbinate Reduction: When Medication Just Isn’t Enough

Nasal turbinate hypertrophy can be devastating to live with, but our team here at The Rontal Clinic can help you find the relief you’ve been waiting for. The first step would be diagnosing the root of the problem.

Don’t worry – we can achieve this by using a flexible endoscope to look into the nose or by looking at the turbinates through a computed tomography (CT) scan. Once diagnosed, we can form a treatment plan. 

Our first goal in treatment is to avoid surgery. If the issue is temporary or minor, we might suggest: 

  • Antibiotics – your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic if the inflammation is due to a bacterial infection.
  • Antihistamines – these are generally prescribed when the inflammation is caused by allergies. 
  • Decongestant – your doctor might also prescribe pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, or oxymetazoline to reduce swelling.

If the issue persists, your Royal Oak ENT doctor might suggest turbinate reduction surgery to decrease the overall size of the nasal turbinates. Some of the most popular techniques utilized today include: 

  • Cauterization involves using heat to close off some of the blood vessels in your turbinates – which reduces blood flow.
  • Radiofrequency can be used to deliver heat to the turbinate tissue, causing it to shrink and scar – reducing its overall size. 
  • Coblation also uses heat to shrink the tissue, but it does so at a much lower temperature than other treatment options. 
  • Microdebrider submucosal resection involves removing tissue through a small opening in your turbinate – without damaging the outer lining.
  • Partial resection involves removing a small part of the turbinate, but usually includes the removal of both hard and soft tissue.

Turbinate reduction surgery is usually done under general anesthesia and on an outpatient basis. It can also be combined with a variety of other nasal procedures – including a septoplasty (deviated septum).

The Rontal Clinic: Royal Oak’s Key to Breathing Easy

Are you having difficulty breathing in or out of your nose? Do you have a nose that won’t stop running? Or a post-nasal drip that won’t stop dripping? Are you slowly starting to lose sense of your smell and taste? 

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then you’ve come to the right place. 

Welcome to The Rontal Clinic. 

If you're experiencing persistent nasal congestion, breathing difficulties, or other symptoms that might suggest turbinate issues, our trusted team of experts can help you find a treatment tailored to your needs.

Please contact our Royal Oak office at (248) 737-4030 to schedule your first appointment.