Inferior Turbinates: what are they, why do they swell, stuffy nose, congestion, how do we treat

This video is about Inferior Turbinates

Small bones in the nose covered in soft tissue that can swell and cause congestion or stuffiness

Turbinates swell with allergies, head colds, lying down

Can be treated with nasal sprays or oral medications. Afrin or Sudafed can both give immediate relief, but should not be used more than a few days only due to addictive effects and other possible side effects.

Nasal steroids (Flonase, Nasacort, Nasonex, Rhinocort, etc) are most commonly used and are safe for longer term use. Can be used as needed, or daily depending on the underlying cause.

Managing allergies can make a huge difference. Avoid allergens (the things you are allergic to), potentially taking allergy medications, or even getting immunotherapy (allergy shots).

Can be shrunk with a variety of procedures in the office or in the operating room. Most common is to use a microdebrider suction device (like liposuction) or some energy device (submucous cautery, coblation) to shrink the turbinates. Sometimes, portions of the bone can also be removed.

We do not recommend removing the entire turbinate or to damage or remove large portions of the pink lining (mucosa) because it helps heat, humidify, and filter the air that we breathe. Doing “too much” causes a lot of dryness and crusting. It also creates an “empty nose” sensation.

Sometimes we also outfracture the turbinate bone – or push it to the sides of the nose.

Turbinate procedures can be done alone or in combination with other procedures such as septoplasty, adenoidectomy, sinus surgery.

Most turbinate procedures only take a few minutes. Recovery only takes about a week or so.

Saline sprays or irrigation help the healing and keep the nose clear and moist.

Over-the-counter pain medications are usually enough.

Medical Disclaimer: All comments are generalizations and intended to be for educational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

49 Comments on “Inferior Turbinates: what are they, why do they swell, stuffy nose, congestion, how do we treat”

  1. i went to sleep with an ac on and no shirt then i had difficulty breathing i feel the air coming from my nose but i feel like im not and it feels like something in my throat today i put my finger in my nose noticed feel something soft this not my first time when i was younger i could feel it i had to dig my finger down there so at the moment its not serious praise god any advice please only 16 years old

  2. My nose ear always feel pressurized and as an effect caused swelling under eye, does anyone know whats going on. I have clogged up nose and when i have a runny nose the swelling under the eye is very less

  3. WHY hasn’t my DR or my ENT DR offered me any of these options? ENT told me my inflammation is medical and not surgical, so there is nothing he can do. My primary Dr gave me steroid sprays which did nothing and then basically said theres not much else we could do. Im ready to go see Dr Strange and whip up whatever spell necessary to be able to breathe again

  4. My turbinates are chronically swollen, but I have no idea if it’s due to allergies or not! From what I understand, allergies are not 24/7, 365d/y (i.e., they usually end at some point once you’re no longer around the allergen), so I’ve always just assumed that mine wasn’t allergies. But idk.

  5. How come every good dr. is in not in my state. I swear all the people I speak to won't give you any info, you have 30 seconds and they leave, etc. I would not know what it is like to visit a dr. like this and actually talk about what to do and what is best for me based on my nose. Refreshing to hear someone actually take time to discuss things, your patients are lucky

  6. Dr., thanks for the great video!
    Question, is it okay to do more than 1 IT outfracture? A second doc outfractured my turbs a few years after I initially underwent this procedure, and im worried about this 😮 thanks if I get any response here!

  7. Can swollen turbinates cause any nerve feelings like send burning from being to dry to the head , face or sometimes send burning or wet/ cold feeling into legs especially if broken teeth is a main problem needing extractions ? Can constantly being inflamed in sinuses spread mucus or fluid or inflammation to the head ? Why does dry air or very dusty rooms or makeup even if makeup touches any part inside of my eye or nostrils and when doesn’t still I began runny eyes and runny nose why is that ? Makeup didn’t bother me before but in past few years it started to effect me using it get runny eyes and nose . I feel as if needing molar extractions on the bottom had caused inflammation to constantly stay effecting me eye Dr says I got allergies in my eyes also and I wake up all dry and at times get bloody nose not to leak down my face but when I blow my nose , I feel the inflammation and awful pressure it’s already lasted almost an year but however the inflammation in my face caused my tooth area cheek area swollen with my top
    Lip ppl thought was abcess but I knew it wasn’t and I felt when I spoke night b4 I had swollen huge as if someone was yanking and cutting and pulling tight my jaw muscle and skin ct scan shown that my muscle and deepest layer of skin had inflammation in there onto it and it swollen my face out they admitted me bc also some swelling was in my throat glands on side under my jaw on right side since molars broke off on both sides so and I battled broken molars almost 3 yrs anyways bc my insrnc wouldn’t pay for extractions that I needed so I would lose one tooth on left or right then opposite side same tooth happened where I’ve lost 5 teeth and abuse made me clench and grind my teeth in my sleep being so depressed so I think I got cavity’s without knowing so eating not good enough and the clenching and grinding began grinding my teeth down bc I woke up to clenching and awful pain as if I tightened up my jaw and shot pain into my ear as if I were being stabbed right into my ear so okay so they popped antibiotic and steroids to me when admitted last Dec in when I got each steroid dose in iv I felt dffrnc took antibiotic didn’t do anything but so that was like 10th day finally after covid I felt better but went out in cold air and bam I was inflamed feeling sinus pressure congested etc and within 2 days my face went huge and then at times I can be eating and then instantly feel something in my throat like as if swallowing would be hard to do if I were to try swallow when the feeling comes in so I try drinks only and I feel it go down but it’s like as if that instant reaction like an flexing reaction
    Occurs making it take longer to swallow bc of the interruption sometimes happens other times feels like stuff gets stuck in my throat if I don’t hold my head straight up and try to swallow with tilted head a bit to the side wow it’s scary feelings yes I’m low on estrogen pre menopausal at young age , yes I been told I have severe allergies , but I been feeling after almost an yr dealing with extreme inflammation all sudden burning / hot sensations in my sinuses and nostrils and head and like I’ve felt wetness or coldness in my head once in summer now happens into my ears and toes at times or down my legs if I feel that cold/ wet sensation in my legs I notice during it happening my leg starts to bloat at times be on my feet in heat and bloat can’t fall asleep with feet on floor for hours because my legs and ankles / feet bloat . As if it’s bad circulation happening as if I’m restricted if my feet pushed into floor it happens as if I’m pushing my feet to hard and that pressure between my foot onto hard floor works as like an turnicat yes I’m sure I push most weight onto my feet when I fall asleep sitting up but all began with teeth breaking off and then with clenching and grinding at times my face hurts wen severely inflamed I can’t even sit my face against my hand I’ve had even pains shoot into my temples if I’m inflamed put glasses on are like straining my eyes after eye Dr scripted me glasses above my neck in my head lower part way bk was aching so badly and drawn onto my eyes as if glasses to strong once I cleared up my sinuses some altho fill bkup fast to dry air or dust etc wen I cleared them some what I put glasses on was like still strain my eyes but being inflamed seems the glasses aren’t to awful strong see more clear through them but when I clear up inflammation put them on and they don’t draw on bk of my head lower area above my neck on both sides of my head but instead I can’t see through them clearly only when my allergies are in effect and when I’m severely inflamed I can see way better through my glasses but draw on my head if I’m less inflamed the vision is dffrnt the glasses are way to strong and it’s like having dbl vision and some blurness so weird how being severely inflamed see through my glasses way better altho get that headache but go less inflamed feel no headache and vision through glasses is like 1.5 times or dbl vision with some blur as if very and to much strong for me . Idk what’s happening since first issue before tooth lost been sinuses getting stuffy and like allergies to makeup runny eyes and nose that lead to broken teeth after began clenching and grinding unknown to me in my sleep feels like my face tightens or locks up when I feel the awful pains so okay after teeth losing come at times I would get this swollen area on my jaw I now know was inflammation at time I didn’t know what it was but okay would go away in cpl days I was able tell was I gonna swell a small lump on my jaw line bc if I tipped my hd bkwrds it would tighten my jaw up so I knew when I would swell , that lead to molars and cpl other teeth being in my mouth the roots for almost 3 yrs which after about 2.5 yrs later I began full stuffy, inflammation I can now feel and tell anytime I got inflammation in my face , then following I got covid and after I felt better I swollen out huge covid filled me up so much I used approx 3-4 rolls of toilet paper just blowing my nose during covid COVID’s aftermath seems stuck with me since 22 days after day 1 of covid I had swollen huge face due to inflammation had gotten onto my jaw muscle I guess they said and my deepest layer of skin inside so then after took antibiotics and crap I’m now left with burning / heat type sensations sometimes in my nostrils and into my head all over at times and the burn spreads sometimes to my toes but ik bc I can feel it it’s like inflammation or fluid into my head or something like inflammation is touching some nerve in my nose I think and sends burn sensation to my head anyways during having covid I began clear discharge from my nose first time I had felt stinging / burning sensation didn’t have no burning or sting or heat sensations till after covid which attacked my upper respiratory

  8. Can the other turbinates become enlarged as well? I had mine reduced through surgery back in 2019, but now I am stopped up all the time but without mucus when I blow.

  9. Thank you so much, this has really helped me. I've got a really blocked nose & have to keep using otravine or sudafed & I know u can't use it for too long. I had a look & I can see large lumps up my nose blocking the airway almost fully. I thought it was polyps & really worrying but now seeing your video I think it's just swollen due to having a cold for a few weeks now. Thank you so much for putting my mind at rest. But I will still go to see a Dr as it happens quite often even when I'm well. I do have allergies too so I'm hoping it's just that. I dread surgery in my nose as I really panic when I can't breathe through my nose 😒

  10. 0:32 how do you explain that when you lie down for a massage, the turbinates swell? is it physiological? is it related to hemodynamics? I mean when you put your head down it's not normal to have a blocked nostril, unless you have a nose/sinus disease right? thank you for your answers

  11. I have enlarged inferior turbinates in both nostrils & I'm sick of them. Tried medication but it didn't help and I'm scared about surgery (ENS).
    Are there other ways to get rid of them ?
    Pls help 🙁

  12. Hello every night when I go to sleep I have nightmares and wake up often because my nose is completely plugged but when I sit up it clears within minutes because of some of the meds I take surgery would be dangerous so are there any tips like a humidifier or would sleeping in a recliner help any advice would be great this is affecting my whole life my work and relationships with my wife and kids I am always tired because i can't sleep

  13. Hello doc!.. i just want to mom's nose is slightly swollen. .she got this when she was lying in bed using her cellphone with her eyeglassses on holding up high in front of her face and it hit straight down to her nose when it fell..she took celebrex for 2 days now and still in pain and swelling..can it be possible that she got her nose broken and can an ice or warm compress be useful to reduce the swelling?.thanks much!

  14. I feel like a have a stuffy nose every single day. It's been that way for years. I've always wondered if having it broken twice when I was a kid had anything to do with it.

  15. Dear sir im from pakistan my son also this issue his nose swell same problem when he sleep but he couldn't well sleep and his breath not oky through from nose how can i solve this problem. Plz tell me im very secry

  16. Doctors need to quit removing the turbinates without getting consent from patients. This is equivalent to malpractice and ENTs are far too frequently just removing them without even informing their patients.

  17. my right side tongue are thicker and bigger than the left but the tongue is not effected, does it effect my speech or is it normal for everybody?

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