Saturday, April 3, 2010

What's a Turbinate??

After 30 days of antibiotic treatment and 2 weeks without medicine, it was time to head back to my ENT doctor for a follow-up appointment. I assumed - incorrectly - that this would be an in and out visit because I was seemingly all cleared up. Turns out that there was more that my doctor wanted to discuss/do.

I sat in the chair and let him know the success of the antibiotics (no more headaches, post-nasal drip dramatically reduced). When he asked about congestion, I let him know that I have had a little bit but that I've noticed it's not unusual for this time of year. He thought about it, nodded, made a few notes, and then came at my face with a pair of what I call "nose-forceps". I don't know what this tool is called, but I know that he uses it to widen my nostril so he can see up my nose. After asking if I felt congested at that moment, and me responding yes - he said "I'm going to decongest you."

My first thought was... uh.... how??

He did some things I couldn't see, made a comment about making a mess, and shoved cotton wet with something up each one of my nostrils. Then he said "We'll let that sit for a bit and wait to see what happens and if that helps you" and left the room. I stayed sitting in the chair, looking at posters showing the anatomy of the nasal passageways, and breathing out of my mouth.

A few minutes later he came back, made more notes, and removed the cotton. Then he went up my nose with the fiber-optic scope, took a look around, and made some more notes. Then he turned around, crossed his arms, leaned against the counter and began to relate to me what the next steps would be.

More good news for Danielle: because I responded so well to the antibiotics, he does not see a need for the sinus surgery (I think this is what is commonly referred to as the 'roto-rooter' treatment for your sinuses). This made me happy because I generally like to avoid having surgeries done. I also get to avoid the deviated septum correction surgery which - again - is good because I generally like to avoid surgery.

While the good news was good, the bad news is that I do have a narrowed nasal passage. The decongestion that he did was to see how my nasal passages would react to what he did, and that allowed him to discover that I have enlarged turbinates. When he informed me that my narrowed nasal passage was due to the deviated septum as well as the enlarged turbinates... he sensed my confusion and showed me where my turbinates were on the poster (they're bony structures along the nasal passage). The in-office procedure - called Coblation Turbinate Reduction - should take no more than 20-30 minutes, is done simply with local anesthesia, and then I can go about my day. Once usually does the trick to correcting the problem over time, but sometimes he has had to do it twice.

Learn about Turbinate Coblation

The other thing that needs to happen is that I need to see an allergist to address what my ENT doc suspects are underlying issues causing my enlarged turbinates. Even with the procedure, allergies are allergies and need to be properly addressed. I've had a long standing suspicion that I've been allergic to adult cats and seasonal polled, and my doctor thinks I may be allergic to dust and mold as well. 

This has turned into a much longer process than I had originally thought it would be, but I'm glad that I am finally getting some answers about my nasal discomfort. It will be nice to have them resolved and not always sound like I have a cold.


SilverNeurotic said...

Yay for avoiding surgeries. According to my sister, they are uncomfortable.

Angie said...

I am so glad you are able to avoid surgery.

AND... that you are seeing a doctor that is addressing issues one at a time so they can be corrected properly.

Hope you get it all fixed. Sinus/breathing issues are no fun.