I have a trouble breathing that switches nostrils periodically. There is a significant difference between each nostril, almost being unable to breathe out of either nostril. I have read that Turbinate Reduction is a surgery done to correct this, although I've read that this is also normal, being called a Nasal Cycle. My question is how do you know if you need the Turbinate Reduction surgery, or if it is just a normal Nasal Cycle?
Turbinate Reduction or Nasal Cycle?
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Doctor Answers 5
Nasal cycle and turbinate hypertrophy
Its absolutely true that due to the nasal cycle, we often alternate in breathing best between the 2 nostrils, as our turbinates congest and constrict.
However if you have significant hypertrophy of the turbinates due to allergies, often in the setting of a deviated septum or narrow nasal cavity, this may result in nasal obstruction that can be severe.
In these cases a turbinate reduction is a great option to improve airflow, and diminish the size and volume of turbinate tissue. Often this surgery can be performed under local anesthesia, or in conjunction with other nasal procedures, such as septoplasty.
Discuss your case with a specialist and good luck!
When you find that problems with nasal breathing are interfering with your sleep, ability to exercise, or your life in general, you may wish to see a board certified Otolaryngologist (ear nose and throat specialist). They may find problems with the nasal septum, inferior turbinates, nasal polyps, or problems with the lining of the nose.
Turbinate surgery is minimally invasive, can be done in the office with just numbing medicine, and you are correct there is little to no downtime. There is little risk, and little postoperative pain. Most of the time it will provide at least a partial improvement in nasal breathing, and if the improvement is not complete, other more invasive procedures can still be done. It is a great first step to finally breathing though your nose!!
Its normal to have slight alternating nasal blockage
We all experience varying degrees of nasal blockage which tends to fluctuate from side to side. Usually nothing needs to be done about this.
However, If the blockage persists and becomes a problem, it can be improved. Turbinate reduction is a simple procedure that can often be done without any "downtime".
Your ear nose throat specialist (otolaryngologist) will be able to provide you with more information.
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Nasal cycle of turbinate overgrowth
The best way to determine if you would benefit from turbinate reduction surgery is to have your nose examined by an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, throat surgeon) or facial plastic surgeon.
There can be a few possible reasons your having trouble breathing. It is normal to have nasal cycling that you describe, but most people aren't aware of it since they have enough leeway inside their nose to allow for adequate airflow even when that side of the nose is congested.
A deviated nasal septum, turbinate overgrowth, nasal polyps and nasal valve collapse are a few basic causes of nasal congestion. An experienced nasal surgeon should be able to assess your nose and help you pin down what is going on in your case.
You can learn more about turbinate reduction surgery at my web reference link below.
Turbinate reduction or nasal cycle
Glenwell, 70-80% of people have nasal cycle, an alternating nasal congestion every 6-8 hours that maintains a relatively constant degree of nasal resistance. It is from increasing blood flow through the congested nostril so that there is tissue engorgement particularly involving the inferior turbinates and erectile tissue on the upper septum. Most people aren't aware of it because there is enough space on each side that the tissue swelling doesn't impact the airway. Those individuals who notice it have some constriction of the nasal airway either from large turbinates or a deviated septum. One way to know if turbinate reduction is helpful would be to use Afrin. If there is significant improvement in both nostrils then reversible tissue swelling is usually the cause and turbinate reduction would be expected to significantly improve the airway. If the Afrin doesn't help much then either there is significant enlargement of the bony turbinate supports, there are nasal polyps, the nasal valve is constricted, the septum is bilaterally deviated, and/or the turbinate tissue is fibrotic. It is very helpful to have someone examine the nose and see it before and after decongestion to accurately determine the cause of your symptoms. Dr. Mark Loury
These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.