What is enlarged turbinates?

Enlarged Turbinates
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Enlarged turbinates: Overview

The turbinates are thin, bony plates inside your nose. Allergies or a lengthy cold can irritate them and cause them to swell, or enlarge. The swelling makes it hard for you to breathe. Another cause of the swelling is overuse of decongestant nasal sprays.

Sometimes it is not clear why turbinates swell. In most cases, the swelling does not cause pain. But it can feel like an object is blocking one side of your nose.

Your doctor may do tests to be sure about what is causing the problem. He or she may prescribe a steroid spray to reduce swelling. Your doctor may advise you to stop using over-the-counter nasal sprays.

If the turbinate swelling does not go down, you may need surgery to open your nasal passage.

How can you care for enlarged turbinates?

  • Take your medicines or use nasal sprays exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you have any problems with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Ask your doctor about cough medicines and decongestants, including nasal sprays. Some doctors recommend these medicines, while others feel that they do not help. Treat a symptom with a medicine that is only for that problem. For example, if you have a cough, use a cough medicine. Don't use a medicine for a cough, stuffy nose, and headache.
  • Use a vaporizer or humidifier to add moisture to your bedroom. Follow the directions for cleaning the machine.
  • Use saline (saltwater) nasal washes to help keep your nasal passages open and wash out mucus and allergens. You can buy saline nose sprays at a grocery store or drugstore. Follow the instructions on the package. Or you can make your own at home. Add 1 teaspoon of non-iodized salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 2 cups of distilled or boiled and cooled water. Fill a squeeze bottle or neti pot with the nasal wash. Then put the tip into your nostril, and lean over the sink. With your mouth open, gently squirt the liquid. Repeat on the other side.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can make breathing problems worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.

Enlarged turbinates in children: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.