There are so many reasons why we might have trouble breathing, including allergies, toxins, colds, the flus, rhinitis and sinus infections. Whatever the cause may be the effect is often blocked or enlarged nasal turbinates.
Nasal turbinates are the three segments that form the inside of your nasal cavity. When they're enlarged, you have less room to breathe. And that's a great reason to want to shrink them. Luckily, there are many effective treatments one can undertake at home.
Saline and Humidity
Moisture is important to healthy noses and sinuses. Irrigating the nose and sinuses with properly concentrated saline can clean out allergens, kill germs and help moisturise turbinates. After all, when the sinuses and nasal cavity dry out, mucus and cilia may not be able to do their job of pushing out debris and allergens.
You can find saline nasal drops and sprays in any drugstore. You can also make your own mild saltwater mixture at home and use an clean eyedropper or a neti pot to deliver saline to the nasal and sinus cavities.
And whether you're very dry or very congested, an air humidifier can help get things moving again. Steam inhalation or a hot shower may have similar effects for congestion, although more short-term than consistent use of a humidifier.
Congestion and Medication
Congestion is a common cause of nasal turbinate swelling. This can be caused by allergies, infection or reactions to chemicals and toxins. Many over the counter remedies are available to treat these conditions at home.
Antihistamine drugs can stop mucus production. Common brands include Benedryl, Claritin, Allegra and Chlor-Trimeton. Decongestants help clear sinus and nasal passages. A couple of common names are Sudafed and Actified. And some people like the all-in-one cocktails of medications in the sinus, cold and flu category of the drugstore, which can include combinations of decongestants, antihistamines, pain relievers and fever reducers.
Nasal spray decongestants like Afrin and Neosynephrine are also an over the counter option which provide effective short-term relief. However, use of more than a few days can lead to nasal passage swelling when you stop using the product.
If nasal turbinate swelling persists despite home treatment or if you find that treatments which used to work become less effective, see a qualified physician. In some cases, nasal swelling stems from infection which may need prescription antibiotics.
In extreme cases of chronic nasal turbinate swelling, surgery may become necessary. In that case, it's important to see a qualified ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.