How To Avoid Empty Nose Syndrome
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How To Avoid Empty Nose Syndrome

What Is Empty Nose Syndrome?

Empty nose syndrome (ENS) is a condition that is due to complications of nasal surgery, involving the nasal turbinates–structures found in the nose and serves as airflow regulator. 

A rare condition that is caused by complications of nasal surgeries. To avoid the syndrome interact with your surgeon about less aggressive methods for nasal surgeries. Symptoms include difficulty in breathing and it can be treated or managed.

During the nasal surgery, it may be that the inferior turbinates were damaged and the nasal physiological function affected, hence, leading to a feeling of suffocation, dryness of the nose, the sensation of the nose being too open, low nasal resistance, nose crusting, intermittent bleeding, etc.

What Causes Empty Nose Syndrome?

The cause of empty nose syndrome is a result of a medical complication in turbinate surgery that was performed aggressively. The likelihood of ENS occurring increases with turbinate procedures, which may include, partial or total resection of the inferior nasal turbinates or mucosal surface cautery. 

When ENS occurs, it indicates that the turbinates are damaged. Although recent research has shown that ENS can occur when the body feels different levels of pressure and temperature in the nose.

What Are The Symptoms Of Empty Nose Syndrome?

 The symptoms of ENS include:

  • A strong sensation of suffocation
  • Deprivation of sleep due to difficulty breathing
  • Nasal and respiratory dryness
  • Asthma-like breathing
  • Bronchitis
  • A disrupted nasal cycle
  • Feeling of the nose being open
  • Excessive flow of air or hyperventilation
  • Burning sensation and pain in the nose
  • Cold, dry air hitting the throat
  • The sensation of numbness in the throat
  • Ear pain
  • A postnasal discharge which could be thick
  • The feeling of being frustrated, irritated, and restless
  • Difficulty to inflate the lungs
  • Hypersensitivity to volatile compounds like gasoline
  • Dizziness
  • Diminish sense of taste and smell

How Can ENS Be Diagnosed?

Since ENS has not been seen as a medical illness on its own, it is not still understood owing to its rare nature. Attention has not been given to the study of this condition until recently, hence, it could be quite challenging to diagnose as there are no known reliable tests for concrete diagnosis yet.

However, some test can be used ascertain empty nose syndrome and they include:

  • Computerize tomography (CT) scan; to ascertain the level of damage to the turbinate.
  • Test on the nasal passage; to ascertain the flow of air and check if the person’s nose is too open.
  • Cotton test; which involves placing moist cotton where the turbinate is. If the person experiences relief when the cotton was placed,  then ENS is suspected
  • Computational fluid dynamics; an advanced test used in the assessment of nasal aerodynamics by checking the airflow direction and pattern
  • Nasal biopsy 
  • Intranasal Schirmer test; done to ascertain the dryness of the nose. Dryness of the nose is one of the major symptoms of ENS.

How Is ENS Treated?

There is no straight treatment of empty nose syndrome yet as most treatment aims at relieving the symptoms and could be temporary. 

Such treatments include: 

  • Sildenafil and some other phosphodiesterase inhibitors, to decrease nasal congestion.
  • Application of hormonal cream inside the nose to aid the increase of the turbinate tissue size.
  • Applying antibiotic cream in the nasal cavity to help kill bacteria.
  • The use of a humidifier in your place of habitation.
  • Taking hot soups and liquids regularly.
  • Living in warm, humid environments.
  • Surgery to help implant tissue that could increase the size of the remaining turbinate in the nasal cavity

How To Avoid Empty Nose Syndrome

The major prevention of empty nose syndrome is to ensure a less aggressive method during nasal surgeries that will not damage the turbinate, by employing conservative tissue-sparing techniques in other to preserve the tissue in the nasal cavity.


Empty nose syndrome is a rare disabling condition characterized by dryness of the nose, difficulty breathing, numbness in the throat, inability to taste and smell, etc.

It could be caused by surgery done on the nose. ENS  affects the quality of one’s life, making one restless, and quite irritated. Both surgical and non-surgical methods can be employed to help improve the symptoms but there is still no permanent cure for ENS. Although, some restorative signs can be achieved using regenerative medications that help the nasal structure functionally and structurally.