Inferior Turbinate Hypertrophy

What is Inferior turbinate hypertrophy?

At the side wall of each nasal cavity, there are 3 sausage-like bony structures called the turbinates (Figure 1). The functions of the turbinates are to humidify, warm and direct the air as it passes through the nasal cavity. They also produce mucous that traps dirt and bacteria as it passes through the nose. The lowest most turbinate is called the inferior turbinate. Inferior turbinates are the largest and most prominent of the turbinates. They can cause significant nasal blockage when they are enlarged. Enlarged inferior turbinates (inferior turbinate hypertrophy – Figure 2) are the most common cause of nasal obstruction.

 

The size of the turbinate varies with many factors. Many people notice that one side of the nose is more congested at certain times of the day and then at a different time in the day the opposite side is congested; this alternating congestion is normal and is known as the nasal cycle. On the other hand, when there is infection or inflammation in the nose, the turbinates on both sides become swollen and you may feel blocked on both sides at the same time. This also happens very commonly in allergic rhinitis, a condition caused by hypersensitivity of the nose to environmental allergens.

Inferior TurbinateEndoscopic Inferior Turbinoplasty

 

The treatment of inferior turbinate hypertrophy is similar to the treatment of Rhinitis (See section on “Rhinitis). However, in patients who have failed maximal medical treatment, inferior turbinate reduction procedures can be considered. This range from radiofrequency or coblation ablation of the inferior turbinates under local anaesthesia to inferior turbinoplasty under general anaesthesia (Figure 3a-c). There are advantages and disadvantages of each procedure and it is best that you have a discussion with your ENT specialist to determine the procedure that is most suitable for you.

When Should You See an ENT Specialist in Singapore?

  • Any ear, nose or throat symptoms that you are troubled with or concerned about
  • Persistent blocked nose with mouth breathing or snoring

Dr Gan provides a comprehensive management in a broad array of Ear, Nose and Throat as well as Head & Neck conditions. He has a special interest in treating various nose and sinus conditions including snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

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