One More Word on Empty Nose Syndrome
Sure, it’s rare, but Empty Nose Syndrome seems to have captured the imagination, or at least the attention, of our national press since last we met. The latest article goes into some more depth about that suffocating sensation, as well as the fascinating anatomy that may hide the key to its origins.
Ear, nose, and throat specialists often surgically reduce the size of nasal turbinates on people with chronic breathing problems. Although most turbinate reductions are successful, empty-nose is a rare post-surgery syndrome that leaves its victims feeling permanently “hollowed out” or “zombie-like,” as more than one sufferer indelibly described their symptoms to the San Diego Reader.
Turbinates perform a valuable service in our respiration, keeping the air we breathe more or less uniformly warm and moist despite dramatic shifts in ambient conditions. When these turbinates are damaged in a specific way, or the feedback system that feeds them suffers a severance, the result can be a surreal sense of breathlessness that can never be sated.
We don’t yet know how serious this issue is, or even whether it is medically verified beyond the first-person accounts of its sufferers. In fact we don’t even know how common it is::
How many people suffer from empty-nose syndrome? No one knows because there’s never been an effort to find out.
“It’s not in their interest to bring this up,” says Gerlach, referring to the otolaryngology profession. “Turbinate reductions are the most common surgery they do; they don’t even tell you it can cause empty-nose.”
I have never heard of a case of empty nose arising from a surgery performed in our Los Angeles Sinus Institute, but I am open to hearing from patients and their families. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss further.