What Is Empty Nose Syndrome? Know Symptoms And Treatment

Empty nose syndrome is a condition which affects the nasal passages. Know the symptoms and treatment.

Navya Kharbanda
Written by: Navya KharbandaUpdated at: Mar 15, 2022 16:04 IST
What Is Empty Nose Syndrome? Know Symptoms And Treatment

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Empty nose syndrome is a rare disorder affecting the nose and nasal passages. People with this condition will have normal-appearing, clear nasal passages, yet they will experience a wide range of symptoms. Empty nose syndrome (ENS) is most common in people who have had nasal surgery, such as a turbinectomy. The turbinates play a vital role in breathing, and altering them may bring about the symptoms of ENS. A person who has had surgery on their nose or nasal passages may be at risk of developing ENS. Similarly, people who have had any kind of turbinectomy may have symptoms of ENS, though not every turbinectomy will lead to ENS. Keep reading to know about the symptoms and treatment of empty nose syndrome.

Empty nose symptoms

People with ENS experience a range of symptoms. Many people complain of feeling that they cannot inhale a complete breath through their nose. The common symptoms of empty nose syndrome are:

  • Feeling that inhaled air is too dry or too cold
  • Nasal bleeding
  • nasal obstruction, even though the passageways are clear
  • Dizziness
  • extreme dryness or crusting
  • lack of the sensation of breathing
  • Feeling that too much air is entering the nose
  • lack of mucus
  • not being able to breathe
  • diminished sense of taste or smell
  • Pain and inflammation
  • Headache
  • sleep disorders, such as an inability to sleep or daytime sleepiness

People with ENS may also feel they have symptoms of suffocation, which can alter their sleep cycle and drastically reduce their quality of life. They may also have co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety and depression, which can be present before surgery or show up at the same time as ENS. Persistent physical and mental health symptoms should be reported to a doctor immediately.

Empty nose treatment

Diagnosing ENS can be difficult. There is still no definitive diagnostic criteria or reliable tests for the syndrome. There is no way to tell for certain if turbinate surgery will cause ENS symptoms. The surgery is successful most of the time and produces little to no long-term side effects. The symptoms of ENS may occur weeks, months, or years after surgery. ENS is usually diagnosed by ruling out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

Also read: How to Get Rid of Stuffy Nose Without Taking Medicines? Find Here

There is no straightforward treatment for ENS. Most treatments are aimed at relieving the symptoms temporarily. Topical treatments such as saline sprays or saline gels can help moisturize the nose, but they can remove beneficial mucus and peptides in the nasal cavity. This unwanted consequence can leave room for dangerous bacteria to spread in the nose. Because of this risk, antibiotic nasal sprays and irrigations are often necessary alongside saline flushes.

Some surgical options also exist for people with ENS. Surgery usually involves using implants of tissue or another material to increase the size of the remaining turbinate in the nose. If this is not possible, doctors may try to implant material in other areas of the nose. These types of surgeries may help balance the airflow in the nasal passages. In addition to sprays, other at-home treatment methods that may provide some relief include:

  • sleeping with a humidifier
  • sleeping with a CPAP machine that helps breathing
  • living in warm, humid environments
  • eating plenty of hot soups and liquids

Cases of ENS can be difficult to diagnose and treat, and the outlook varies based on the individual. Moderate relief may be found through surgery or medication. Controlling symptoms as much as possible can help improve the person’s quality of life.