Rhinitis is the enlargement of the turbinates caused by an inflammation of the mucosa that covers them. This inflammation is caused by an allergy, and in Spain, between 20 and 25% of the population has chronic rhinitis.
What are turbinates?
The turbinates are structures located inside the nostrils. They have a bony framework and are covered with a very vascularized mucosa (a lot of blood supply). They have the function of filtering, warming and humidifying the air we breathe.
One of the pathologies that we can suffer in the turbinates is rhinitis, an inflammation of the mucosa that covers them and that causes an increase in their size. This inflammation is usually caused by an allergy.
In Spain, between 20 and 25% of people have chronic allergic rhinitis.
Rhinitis becomes a problem when it is chronic.
Symptoms of rhinitis
According to experts in Otorhinolaryngology, rhinitis causes two main symptoms:
- Nasal obstruction: as the turbinates are larger, they occupy more space and there is less room for air to enter the nose. In addition, the inflammation of the nasal mucosa contributes to this sensation.
- Rhinorrhea: generally transparent or whitish mucus in the nose that forces us to blow our nose and use a handkerchief frequently.
Treatment of rhinitis
The treatment of chronic rhinitis is based on corticoid sprays and antihistamines. Only when this treatment is not effective do we suggest a simple surgery to the patient; turbinate radiofrequency surgery.
Technique of turbinate radiofrequency
Radiofrequency turbinate surgery is a surgical procedure whose objective is to reduce the size of the inferior turbinates (the main cause of nasal obstruction). For this purpose, a needle-tipped terminal is introduced through the nostril. Several punctures are made in each inferior turbinate and an energy (radiofrequency) is administered to reduce their volume.
It is a technique that lasts about 15 minutes and is performed in the operating room under general anesthesia with a laryngeal mask. This surgery can be performed by anyone who does not have a high anesthetic risk due to diseases.
Postoperative period of turbinate radiofrequency surgery
After turbinate radiofrequency surgery, the patient is discharged one or two hours later. No nasal packing is required and work can be resumed the following day.
It is not a painful procedure, and for a few days we prescribe analgesia with paracetamol.
We recommend nasal washes with sea water or saline to clean the crusts that may appear during the first days. Exceptionally, bleeding may occur.