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Enlarged Turbinates


The inferior turbinates are 2 scrolls of tissue which sit on each side of the nose. These 2 structures serve a very important purpose but can be a cause of nasal obstruction.

Function of inferior turbinates

The inferior turbinates serve several important functions. These include:

  • Sensation of nasal airflow
  • Humidification of air
  • Sweeping material / inhaled debris from the front of the nose to the back of the nose

Normal nasal cycle

The nasal cycle refers to the process whereby the inferior turbinates undergo swelling on one side which continues for 6 hours and then decreases in size. This process alternates the side of the nose which you breath through with one side being the open nostril for 6 hours then swapping to be the other nostril which is more open. This normal nasal cycle is why some people will say that their blocked nose is changing from side to side. It changes from side to side with the normal nasal cycle.


The main symptom of enlarged inferior turbinates is nasal obstruction. The nasal obstruction may be present all of the time or alternatively present mainly at night when you lies down. The inferior turbinates undergo swelling when you lie down which causes the turbinates to enlarge in size and then block the nose.

Causes of enlarge inferior turbinates

There are a several causes of large inferior turbinates. These include:

  • Developmental
  • Allergic rhinitis (Hayfever)
  • Cold air exposure
  • Air conditioning

Diagnosing large inferior turbinates

Dr Robinson will diagnose large inferior turbinates by looking in your nose with a nasoendoscope. The turbinates are found on either side of the nose and will be large. If you have large inferior turbinates as well as a blocked nose, then this is the cause of your nasal obstruction.

Treatment Options for large inferior turbinates

There are multiple treatment options for large inferior turbinates. As a general rule these treatment options include:

  • Intranasal steroid sprays
  • Performing a turbinoplasty


Performing a turbinoplasty is a procedure which Dr Robinson performs frequently. The operation involves a general anaesthetic. Utilising a nasonedoscope, Dr Robinson removes the bone from the inferior turbinate whilst preserving the mucosa of the inferior turbinate. The preservation of the mucosa allows for the sensation of nasal airflow to be preserved. This procedure has a very high success rate for the treatment of nasal obstruction.