- Otolaryngology

Could You Possibly Have, Gulp, Empty Nose Syndrome?

It’s a frightening prospect after a nasal or sinus surgery to entertain the idea that you might have a serious complication known as empty nose syndrome (ENS). It will make you sick just thinking about it. Adding confusion to the mix is that some temporary complications are similar to ENS including dryness, crusting, bleeding, and congestion. And, let’s face it, you really should not worry about having ENS until some time has passed. Dr. Steven Houser of Cleveland, Ohio, for example, who is well-versed in treating ENS patients, won’t diagnose someone as having ENS until a full year has passed after the turbinate reduction surgery.

Yet you could certainly be experiencing ENS symptoms immediately after surgery, such as the sense of paradoxical obstruction and this symptom might indicate ENS. Confused? You should be. This is ENS we are talking about. It is incredibly complex and the symptoms vary considerably among sufferers.

And your ENS might not be as serious as you think. You might experience chronic nasal dryness and cold, dry air that reaches your throat and lungs all too quickly, which is downright annoying. Or it might be just as serious as you think. If you are like me, it might be far worse than you think.

I have experienced some of the following problems:

1) Vomiting after meals due to nasal and throat dryness.

2) Blowing my nose with all my might but little exits.

3) Feeling like I am just not breathing right or “stuffy.”

4) Chronic sinus symptoms, often including nasal and sinus inflammation.

5) Chronic throat irritation that fluctuates between sore and irritated.

6) Excessive preoccupation with my nose.

If you go to your doctor, you might be told you are a difficult patient to treat…because you are. You give yourself and others a headache and it is not just due to lack of orderly (ornery) incoming airflow into your nose. Your turbinates (nasal fingers) have been removed. You might believe there is little hope for your condition and that most doctors are unsure how to treat it, because they are. They can’t put the turbinates back and very few noble doctors have ventured into the realm of surgical reconstruction for missing turbinates at present.

Given the extensive lack of attention to this problem in the medical field, you begin to wonder if these doctors even care. You just hope they want to treat (or diagnose) a problem that “they” have created. And you are excessively thankfully to visit a doctor who can reflect with accuracy upon your symptoms. Dr. Houser, for instance, has acknowledged that many of his patients are overly grateful when they receive help from him.

So what should you do about this problem? There are many avenues of help you can pursue but you, no one else, have to fully learn about your problem and take a pro-active stance in your health. Some treatment tips include pulsatile saline irrigation, allergy medicine and injections, diet, exercise, sleep, and reduction of stress. These treatments are not only beneficial for ENS, but also helpful for a host of nasal and sinus problems.

And while you are at, take some time to read Dr. Houser’s research article, “Surgical Treatment for Empty Nose Syndrome,” published in the September 2007 issue of Archives of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery. This article is perhaps the first ever in a major medical journal to properly define ENS and it was rated one of the best articles in the September 2007 journal. After you are done digesting that (please don’t eat it), then read Having Nasal Surgery? Don’t You Become An Empty Nose Victim! for a second crash course in ENS. And when you are done doing those two activities, visit the website of the Empty Nose Syndrome Association at http://www.emptynosesyndrome.org, where you can converse with fellow sufferers. Or you can switch the order of these activities if you’d like.

Stick your nose right into these resources. You won’t be blamed for being nosy. After all, you might not have one.

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