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.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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 moisturize 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.
- 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 moisturize turbinates.
Congestion and Medication
Herbal Remedies for Nasal Polyps
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
- pain relievers
- fever reducers
- Antihistamine drugs can stop mucus production.
- A couple of common names are Sudafed and Actified.
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.
- 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.
Herbal Remedies for Nasal Polyps
Relief From Ear Congestion
Smelly Mucus in the Nose
At Home Remedies for Clogged Sinus
How to Stop a Gagging Cough
Over-the-Counter Treatments for Post Nasal Drip
How to Take Care of Your Nose
Breathing & Phlegm
Does a Cut-Up Onion Clear Sinuses?
How to Get Rid of Nasal & Throat Congestion
- Oregon Health Sciences University Pediatric Otolaryngology. Saline nasal sprays and irrigation.
- Thieme U, Müller K, Bergmann C, et al. Randomised trial on performance, safety and clinical benefit of hyaluronic acid, hyaluronic acid plus dexpanthenol and isotonic saline nasal sprays in patients suffering from dry nose symptoms. Auris Nasus Larynx. 2020. doi:10.1016/j.anl.2020.01.008
- Cleveland Clinic. Nosebleed (epistaxis): Prevention. Updated October 23, 2019.
- American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery. Post-nasal drip. 2020.
- MedlinePlus. Oxymetazoline nasal spray. Updated September 15, 2016.
- Cleveland Clinic. Nasal sprays work best when you use them correctly—here’s how. October 2016.
Eric Feigenbaum started his career in print journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of "The Daily" of the University of Washington during college and afterward working at two major newspapers. He later did many print and Web projects including re-brandings for major companies and catalog production.