What are Turbinates?

Inside the walls of your nose are 3 pairs of small bones covered with tissue. This tissue is full of warm blood vessels that can expand. These structures are called nasal turbinates. Turbinates are located within your nose to warm, filter and humidify the air as we breathe. Turbinates play an important role in the health of our bodies. Turbinates also prevent cold air from reaching our lungs. When they become enlarged over a period of time, they may need correction in order for you to breathe properly.

A nose diagram

When certain turbinates (inferior) become chronically swollen or inflamed, the condition is called turbinate hypertrophy. This can be the cause of your nosebleeds, infections and other chronic sinus infections. Conditions that constrict airflow make breathing difficult and you may be susceptible to chronic sinus infections. Other symptoms such as headaches, snoring, sleep apnea, and bad breath are also related to turbinate enlargement.

Treatment for nasal obstruction caused by enlarged turbinates is a minor procedure. They can be removed surgically, they can be treated with a laser, or they can be removed with a variety of simple hand instruments or powered instruments. Recovery from this procedure is a short period of time, usually a few days. You should restrict exercise for one or two weeks. The long-term results from turbinate are considered to be very good. There are times when they may enlarge again and that is usually in people who have allergies; a patient is advised to make sure the allergies are controlled long-term.