What are Nasal Turbinates?

And How Do They Affect Your Health?

Nasal turbinates are the thin bones inside the nasal cavity. The turbinates in the nasal passage split the airway into 4 different air passages. There are 3 different types of turbinates in the nasal passage.

Types of TurbinatesNasal TurbinatesCredit: By Nose2000 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Inferior Nasal Turbinates

Middle Nasal Turbinates

Superior Nasal Turbinates

The nasal bones have numerous functions within the body. The nasal turbinates help filter the air so that tiny particles of debris and pollen do not get sucked into your lungs. The turbinate bones also warm the air up that you breathe in as well as moistening the air you breathe to keep your lungs from getting dry. The 3 different turbinates may be small, yet they are vital to a healthy body. All people need air and the turbinates are an under-appreciated part of the body that helps to regulate and direct air into the body.

Obstructed Nasal Cavities

Some people undergo turbinate reduction surgery (turbinoplasty). This surgery will slightly decrease the size of the turbinate bones while allowing them to continue to function normally. The smaller bone size will allow people to breathe easier through the nasal cavity because it lessens the obstruction of air from the enlarged bones.

Septal deviations also occur when the turbinates are too large. Septal deviations make it hard to breathe though the nasal passages. A surgery can be done that is similar to a nasal turbinates reduction surgery and is called septoplasty. This surgery will not only make it easier for one to breathe through the nose, but can also cut down on an individual's respiratory problems and infections.

Medication is often used first to treat nasal problems; however if the medication fails to make a major improvement then surgery may be needed whether it be the turbinoplasty procedure or the septoplasty surgery. Sometimes both procedures need to be performed simultaneously; however both surgeries are considered simply procedures and usually you will go home the same day that you have one or both of these nasal surgeries at the hospital.

If you chronically have nasal problems including infections and difficulty breathing, then your doctor can send you to an ear, throat, and nose specialist who can then determine if a nasal operation is necessary or not. Many people go years without being able to breathe through their nasal cavities efficiently and then once they get the septoplasty or turbinoplasty procedure done they are amazed at how much better they can breathe. After the surgery these people are simply breathing normally though the nose like before but they have never been able to do so.  Typically, they are amazed at the difference a full breath of air though the nose can make.

Patient Undergoing SeptoplastyCredit: By U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joseph A. Boomhower [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Often times a lifetime of breathing difficulties is fixed from one of these 2 simple procedures. Nasal turbinates are very small bones, yet they are in charge of coordinating the air that is necessary for life.

Chronic nasal obstruction is often caused by the 3 turbinate bones that may be larger than necessary. If a person is born with larger turbinate bones it can lead to a lifetime of breathing difficulty. Two simple procedures, turbinoplasty and septoplasty, are two ways the nasal turbinates can be modified to allow normal breathing.

Suggested Reading:

Symptoms and Treatment of Maxillary Sinusitis

SinuPulse Elite Advanced Nasal Sinus Irrigation System
Amazon Price: $97.00 $67.95 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 2, 2016)