The turbinates refer to normal structures on the side walls of the nose. There are 3 on each side, though the lower 2 turbinates are most functionally important. They control the airflow and humidification in the nasal passages, and likely contribute to mucus flow and our sense of smell. However, when enlarged, they can cause significant blockage of the nose. In children, hayfever, other allergies and common colds may lead to turbinate enlargement.
Examination in the nasal passages will clearly reveal if a problem exists. Often, co-existing adenoid enlargement may be identified.
A turbinate reduction procedure may be considered if the symptoms are troubling for your child, and if medication is not improving the situation. With technologic advances, minimally invasive methods are available. Most commonly, a radio-frequency probe, ("coblation") is used to reduce the volume of enlarged turbinates, with the advantage of minimal pain, bleeding or crusting. The adenoids may need to be addressed at the same time.