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Empty Nose Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Empty nose syndrome is a rare kind of disorder that affects the nose and nasal passages. It is most common in people who have had nasal surgery like turbinectomy.

What Causes Empty Nose Syndrome

A person who has had surgery on their nose or nasal passages are at a higher risk of developing empty nose syndrome. Septoplasty and turbinate reduction are the surgeries which are done to correct a deviated septum and enlarged turbinates, respectively. These surgeries are done to improve breathing problems caused by a deviated septum, such as abnormal airflow and sleep apnea.

However, in some cases, people tend to have worsened breathing problems after their nasal passages are opened up with the help of surgery. This condition is called empty nose syndrome.

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Symptoms Of Empty Nose Syndrome [1]

  • Difficulty in breathing through the nose
  • Nasal dryness and crusting
  • A recurrent sensation of drowning
  • Nosebleeds
  • Low airflow
  • Headaches
  • Breathlessness
  • Nasal swelling and pain
  • Tiredness
  • Lack of mucus inside the nose
  • Dizziness
  • Reduced sense of smell or taste
  • Heart palpitations

Empty nose syndrome also causes psychological symptoms like depression and anxiety.

Diagnosis Of Empty Nose Syndrome

The diagnosis of empty nose syndrome can be difficult because there is no specific test for diagnosing this condition. The symptoms of empty nose syndrome might occur in weeks, months or years after surgery.

However, an ENT specialist can suspect empty nose syndrome depending on the person's symptoms and by performing a cotton test [2] .

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Treatment Of Empty Nose Syndrome

The treatment options for empty nose syndrome aim at relieving the symptoms temporarily. Topical treatments like saline gels or saline sprays can aid in moisturizing the nose, but they can remove the beneficial mucus and peptides in the nasal cavity.

In addition, few treatments at home can provide some relief too which include the following:

  • Sleeping with a humidifier
  • Staying in warm, humid environments
  • Drinking hot soups and liquids
  • Using antibiotic nasal sprays to kill the bad bacteria
  • Applying hormonal creams inside the nose to increase turbinate tissue size
  • Using implants of tissue or other material to increase the size of the remaining turbinate in the nose

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View Article References
  1. [1] Manji, J., Patel, V. S., Nayak, J. V., & Thamboo, A. (2019). Environmental Triggers Associated With Empty Nose Syndrome Symptoms: A Cross-Sectional Study.Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology,128(7), 601-607.
  2. [2] Houser, S. M. (2007). Surgical treatment for empty nose syndrome.Archives of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery,133(9), 858-863.

Story first published: Friday, July 12, 2019, 9:00 [IST]
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