May 5, 2009 in Features

Empty Nose Syndrome caused by surgeon

Dr. Peter H. Gott, M.D.
 

Dear Dr. Gott: I have had several nasal surgeries, including a rib-cartilage graft to my nose, septoplasty and turbonectomy for a deviated septum. I also had to have a silastic nasal button put in place because of a nasal perforation. As a result of this, when I blow my nose (which always feels clogged and dry), nothing comes out.

I am a medical transcriptionist and came across the term Empty Nose Syndrome, and I was wondering what you could tell me about it. My doctor says I can’t expect anything more than I have now because of the several surgeries and scar tissue, but I am hoping that you may be able to help me get relief or point me in the right direction.

Dear reader: Empty Nose Syndrome is a term used to describe an iatrogenic (caused by a physician, surgeon or treatment) condition in which the inferior or middle turbinates (structures that control the flow of air) of the nose were over-resected during surgery. This leads to an excessively wide nasal cavity.

Symptoms include chronic dryness of the nose, pharynx and associated mucous membranes, breathing difficulties and more. Most sufferers complain of being “stuffy” or “congested” despite a lack of mucus or complain that their sinuses feel “too open” and they can’t get enough air into their lungs.

Because this situation is caused by a doctor, it should be addressed. There are certain conditions, such as cancerous tumors of the nasal cavity, that may necessitate removing as much of the turbinate as possible to treat all signs of the cancer.

I urge you to return to the surgeon to discuss your symptoms or to seek a second opinion. For more information on Empty Nose Syndrome, you may wish to visit the Empty Nose Syndrome self-help Web site at www.emptynosesyndrome.org. This site has several links to journal articles and physician Web sites that discuss the syndrome, its causes, symptoms and possible treatments. I should also mention that this site states plainly that it is created by sufferers of the syndrome, not medical professionals, so it is vital that any diagnoses or treatments you come across are discussed with an appropriate medical professional.

Dear Dr. Gott: You recently had an article about vasomotor rhinitis. I have a simple, inexpensive remedy that may help.

I am not a regular water drinker but find that when I am dehydrated, I have a constantly running nose, sneezing and nasal congestion. I have found that if I drink at least five tall glasses of water, I can stop my symptoms within a week.

It has worked for me for several years and also for several people I know. I hope you will pass this on to your readers.

Dear reader: I have never heard of nasal congestion and sneezing as symptoms of dehydration. More common symptoms include sleepiness, thirst, headache, muscle weakness, dry mouth and decreased urination. Extreme cases of dehydration may be associated with fever, sunken eyes, rapid heartbeat and fever.

An appropriate gauge of whether you are dehydrated or not is the color of your urine. Dark-yellow or amber urine signifies that there is too little water in the body. Light or clear urine is a good sign that the body is properly hydrated.

That said, if your nasal symptoms directly respond to correcting your dehydration, then continue your “treatment.” There is no harm in drinking adequate amounts of water.

Dr. Peter Gott is a retired physician and the author. Readers may write to Dr. Gott c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th fl., New York, NY 10016.

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