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You recently had nasal surgery to make your breathing easier. Your nose looks clear and you don’t feel sick. Why, then, are you still having trouble breathing? You may have a rare condition called empty nose syndrome.
What causes empty nose syndrome?
Empty nose syndrome affects a small percentage of people who have had a septoplasty or turbinate reduction surgery. A septoplasty is a procedure to repair a deviated septum. Nasal turbinates are the small structures in your nose that clean and humidify air as it passes through your nostrils. Enlarged turbinates can cause breathing difficulty. Turbinate reduction solves this problem.
The exact cause of empty nose syndrome is unknown, but some researchers believe it is triggered when the pressure and temperature receptors on the turbinates are disrupted. These people are unable to sense their nasal breathing, and that combined with an increased airflow into your nose can trigger this condition.
Some doctors also believe that the reduction of nasal mucus during surgery can also increase the level of harmful bacteria in your nose. These bacteria can worsen empty nose syndrome symptoms.
What are the symptoms of empty nose syndrome?
The most common symptom is difficulty breathing through the nose. Other symptoms include nasal headaches, nasal swelling, nosebleeds, diminished senses of smell and taste, thick post-nasal drip, tiredness, dizziness, and heart palpitations.
How is empty nose syndrome treated?
Treatment of empty nose syndrome usually addresses the symptoms the patient is experiencing. For example, nasal sprays and humidifiers can moisturize nasal passages, while antibiotics can address bacterial issues. Your doctor may also consider enlarging your turbinates using hormonal cream, too.
Empty nose syndrome is a comparatively new condition, so research into causes and treatments is still underway.
Nasal surgery at CEENTA
“It is important to seek out an experienced ear, nose and throat surgeon who commonly performs nasal airway surgery when considering surgery to improve nasal breathing,” CEENTA ENT doctor Isaac Dingle, MD, said. “Over-resectioning of the turbinates can be associated with empty nose syndrome. Surgeons at CEENTA are careful to maintain the integrity of the turbinates while still providing relief in severe nasal obstruction."
Make sure your nose is in the right hands. Schedule your care at CEENTA.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Would you like an appointment with Dr. Dingle? Call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.
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