What is Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy?
Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy is a pathological condition of the nose in which the nasal turbinates get enlarged resulting in obstruction of the nasal airways causing breathing difficulties to an individual. Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy is also known by the name of Nasal Concha. Coming to what nasal turbinates are, these are paired structures which are formed by two small bones located within the nasal passages. The Nasal Turbinates occur in three pairs namely, inferior, middle, and superior turbinates. These turbinates are divided on either side of the face by the nasal septum.
Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy can occur due to common allergens present in the environment which when inhaled can cause enlargement of the Nasal Turbinates. Additionally, conditions like chronic sinusitis, pregnancy, and other hormonal changes can also cause Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy.
What are the Causes of Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy?
The Nasal Turbinates are covered by mucous membranes which have numerous blood vessels which tend to constrict and enlarge due to a variety of reasons causing Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy. The function of the nasal turbinate is to facilitate smooth nasal functioning by humidifying, warming, and filtering the air when it is inhaled through the nose. Due to enlargement of the nasal turbinates this functioning is disrupted resulting in an individual having problems breathing normally. Some of the causes of Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy are:
- Environmental allergens
- Chronic sinusitis
- Allergies, both indoor and outdoor
- Hormonal changes
A deviation of the nasal septum which divides the nasal turbinates is yet another cause for Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy. In some cases, compensatory turbinate hypertrophy is developed due to a deviated nasal septum in which when one pair of nasal turbinate stops functioning the other pair tries to function on its behalf resulting in severely blocked nose as one side of the nose is blocked due to deviated septum and the other side gets blocked because of Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy.
What are the Symptoms of Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy?
Some of the symptoms of Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy are:
- Chronic nasal congestion
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- Sensation of blockage in the nose
- Intense Snoring
- Sleep apnea
- Persistent dry mouth.
How is Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy Treated?
Conservative approach is the front line treatment for Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy. This is done basically with use of antihistamines and allergy shots which tend to minimize the immune response and decrease swelling of the turbinates. This treatment approach is undertaken when it is confirmed that allergies is the cause for Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy. Additionally, nasal steroid sprays are prescribed to control the inflammation of the turbinates and facilitate improved breathing.
If nasal septum deviation is confirmed to be the etiology of Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy, then correction of the deviated septum is done which is a surgical procedure.
If all the conservative approaches fail to be effective in treating Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy then surgery in the form of a turbinate reduction is performed. The main aim of the surgery is to reduce the size of the turbinates and thus opening the airways for smooth breathing. There are various methods employed to decrease the size of the turbinates. While some procedures aim at removing a part of the structure to reduce its size there are others which aim at shrinking the tissue of the turbinates to make them smaller in size. Surgery for reducing the size of the turbinate can be performed at the same time as surgery is performed for correcting deviated septum or treating sinusitis which is another cause for Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy.
There is one novel technique used for shrinking the size of the turbinates and treat nasal turbinate hypertrophy. This procedure is called as Coblation Turbinate Reduction. This procedure is found to be quite effective and is said to provide immediate relief. In this procedure, the nose is made numb with the help of a local anesthetic and a Coblation wand which emits radiofrequency energy is inserted into the turbinate. The radiofrequency emission causes shrinking of the tissue and thus reducing the size of the turbinate and providing immediate relief from symptoms of Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy.