When is treatment of turbinate dysfunction indicated?

Updated: Jun 24, 2021
  • Author: Sanford M Archer, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

Indications for the management of turbinate dysfunction include a clinical history of bothersome nasal congestion and postnasal drainage with or without paranasal sinus disease or a significant septal deformity.

Because the ability to breathe out of one's nose is a quality of life issue, many patients take it for granted, and when the nasal airway is diminished, people often tolerate it. Many treatments are available for this disorder, and isolating the etiology is hallmark for successful therapy. Identifying whether symptoms are due to allergies or other causes is the first step. A careful history and allergy testing, if indicated, are most useful. Offending medications may be substituted or at least identified. If the patient continues to have symptomatic turbinate dysfunction, then initiate medical therapy. Surgical therapy is reserved for those patients that do not respond to appropriate medical therapy and clinically remain symptomatic.

A study by Sharhan et al found that the inferior turbinate in patients with allergic rhinitis did not demonstrate greater hypertrophy than that in patients with nonallergic rhinitis. Consequently, the investigators suggested that when septoplasty is performed on patients with symptoms of nasal obstruction, surgical reduction of inferior turbinate hypertrophy be considered even in the absence of allergic rhinitis. [5]


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