Experiencing nasal congestion all the time can become frustrating when you’re experiencing it around the clock. There’s nothing fun about feeling stuffy or like you’re not getting enough oxygen when you try to breathe. For some, it’s as simple as sinus issues, for others it can be enlarged turbinates, and for some it can be a deviated septum. Furthermore for most it’s a combination of all 3. Understand how your sinuses, turbinates and septum impact your daily routine can help you determine if you need to speak with a sinus doctor about potential treatments.
WHAT’S A TURBINATE AND WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IT’S ENLARGED
Turbinates are thin plates of bone inside your nose that can easily become enlarged from allergies, irritants (pollutions/smoke/fires/fumes), infection or a cold. These small plates help filter airflow through our nose as well as humidify it. You may also experience inflammation if you get hit in the face hard.
There are three levels of turbinates in your nose:
- Superior turbinates in the upper part nose, closer to the eyes – no impact on breathing but can affect smell
- Middle turbinates – in the middle of your nose and can affect sinus drainage and cause sinus headaches
- Inferior turbinate in the lower part of the nose, closer to the nostrils – main impact on congestion
When irritated or inflamed, you may experience things such as sinus headaches or pressure, congestion, runny nose, postnasal drip, snoring, chronic mouth breathing, decrease in smell and even fatigue or shortness of breath. Studies show that enlarged turbinates are the second most common cause of obstruction after a deviated septum for nasal breathing and if left untreated can become a chronic issue. Other breathing issues are related to the nasal valve or sinuses.
WHAT’S A DEVIATED SEPTUM
When your nasal septum is displaced significantly to one side or the other, it can cause unilateral or bilateral congestion. This is specifically termed a deviated septum and can be to the left, right or s-shaped causing problems on both sides of your nose. It’s common for the nasal septum to have a slight deviation, and is rare for a doctor to see that the dividing line of cartilage is perfectly straight. However, when it’s too far to one side or severely s-shaped, it can limit how well your nasal cavity works. This can become frustrating if it begins to impact your ability to inhale and exhale air, or when it begins to interfere with your daily life.
Symptoms may include but are not limited to:
- Severe congestion
- Soreness around the nose or facial pain
Common causes of a deviated septum:
- Contact sports, an injury from a ball or fall
- Car accidents
- Any blunt physical force to the face
- Genetic as born with it
More than one-third of the population is unknowingly born with a deviated septum.
ARE THESE ISSUES DANGEROUS FOR ME
When your turbinates are irritated or inflamed, you may feel discomfort throughout the day with breathing and at night when you’re trying to sleep. This can lead to a poor sleep schedule for yourself or others in your home if you snore. Your nose may also feel tender and sore, which can lead you to rub at it and potentially irritate the area more. Severe cases of turbinate swelling may occur if your inferior turbinates become an obstruction to your nasal cavity. This can make breathing through your nose feel almost impossible.
A deviated septum isn’t necessarily life-threatening in the sense that most symptoms are minor, but it can become dangerous in severe cases if left untreated. One of the most common issues people face when dealing with a more severe case is experiencing sleep apnea. Over time the disruptions in your sleep schedule can lead to high blood pressure,
TREATMENT, RELIEF, AND GETTING BACK TO NORMAL
You may be curious if a deviated septum and enlarged turbinate are treatable. The short answer is yes, these issues are treatable and not something you have to live with forever. With any procedure, the goal will be to bring you relief when it comes to any form of discomfort, but deciding which option is best will depend on the severity of your specific case.
ENLARGED TURBINATE TREATMENT
For an enlarged turbinates, you may be prescribed medications to begin with such as an antihistamine for the nasal cavity, a nasal steroid spray, a saline rinse or various pills . This will hopefully help shrink the irritation and reduce the swelling. However, if the inflammation is severe and not responding to medication then an in-office 15 minute minor procedure called submucous resection of the turbinates under local will be recommended by Dr. Alen Cohen. Discussing your options with your doctor will help determine which route is best for you.
DEVIATED SEPTUM TREATMENT
Similar to treatment for an enlarged turbinate, you may be prescribed antihistamines or nasal sprays at first in an attempt to avoid surgery. However, if no change is noticeable in your symptoms, your doctor will recommend either a septoplasty or a septorhinoplasty with or without turbinate reduction. Both procedures work to even out your nasal passageway and open up the airflow. However, a septorhinoplasty is a slightly more detailed surgery that reshapes the outside of your nose as well and may also correct any cosmetic deformities.
Another difference between a septorhinoplasty and septoplasty is that the former primarily focuses on the outside and cosmetic appearance of the nose, while a septoplasty simply deals with the interior and structural issues inside the nose. That is why there is no bruising or breaking with a septoplasty but there is with a septorhinoplasty. Both are great options that could drastically help when it comes to treating a deviated septum. Please be aware a septorhinoplasty can only be partially covered by insurance as all cosmetic issues have an out of pocket fee.
Don’t hesitate to look at your options for correcting your congestion issues whether it’s inflamed sinuses, enlarged turbinates or deviated septum. You don’t have to live in discomfort or lose sleep when it comes to the constant feeling of congestion.
GET RELIEF TODAY
Need an appointment? Call world-renowned sinus doctor, Alen N. Cohen MD FACS FARS today at (818) 888-7878.
If you or a loved one are experiencing the symptoms of sinus issues, enlarged turbinates or believe you may have a deviated septum, contact us today. Dr. Cohen will schedule a time to meet with you and help diagnose the conditions you’re experiencing, as well as determine what the best route of treatment may be.
During your appointment, feel free to address any concerns or ask any questions. Dr. Cohen will be more than happy to explain and help you understand everything from your condition to potential treatments and more. Our goal is to help you improve your quality of life with treatments that aren’t incredibly invasive and don’t require months of recovery time.