Say what? OK, 99 out of 100 of us have no idea what a turbinate is, much less why it or they may need reducing. Yes, but if your turbinates are chronically swollen, they can lead to obstruction in the nasal passages, and this invariably leads to snoring and potentially sleep apnea.
At New York ENT, Dr. Volpi can treat your swollen turbinates with radiofrequency energy, which usually allows our patients to breathe easier, both literally and figuratively!
What are the turbinates and what do they do?
The turbinates are two spongy curled bones that protrude into the nasal passages. They can be found on both sides of the nasal cavity and are separated by the nasal septum. The turbinates are covered by respiratory epithelium covering a thick layer of vascular tissue. Named by their location, there are three turbinates: the inferior, middle, and superior turbinates. The inferior turbinate is the largest and most prone to swelling and blocking airflow.
The turbinates are responsible for directing the airflow inside the nasal cavity. The soft tissue covering them is responsible for humidifying, heating, and filtering inhaled air. It’s important to humidify the air to prevent damage to the olfactory receptors that are responsible for the recognition of various scents and odors. The epithelium layer is also the first line of immunological defense, triggering quick immune response at the signs of microbial or chemical irritation.
Who is a candidate to have turbinate reduction surgery?
Anyone can have swelling in their turbinates, but the problem usually goes away on its own or with treatment. For instance, if you’re allergic to elm tree pollen, when it is released in the spring it’s likely your turbinates will swell. But allergy medication and the passing season are usually all you’ll need to deal with it.
But in some people their causes of swollen turbinates are chronic, and they require surgery to correct the problem. These are candidates for these surgeries with Dr. Volpi. The conditions that could merit surgery would be:
- Chronic sinus infections
- Severe allergies
- Anatomic problems with the nose
- Someone who had a septoplasty for a deviated septum
If Dr. Volpi and you agree that conservative treatments aren’t addressing your swollen turbinates, he will likely recommend reduction surgery. This is an in-office procedure that takes less than an hour. During the procedure, Dr. Volpi exposes the turbinates in your nose with radiofrequency energy, which gently removes a portion of the tissue, downsizing the turbinates.
If you have issues with snoring and sleep apnea, it could be your turbinates. Call Dr. Volpi at New York ENT, 212-873-6036, and let’s check out your situation.