Empty Nose Syndrome (ENS) , otherwise often referred to as Atrophic Rhinitis, is a disorder of the nose and nasal passage. Sufferers of this rare condition will have clear nasal passages that appear regular but they will have a range of symptoms. People who have had nasal surgery are most likely to suffer from ENS.
Multiple previous operations on the nose or nasal passage will increase your chances of developing ENS. People who have had a turbinectomy of any kind may suffer symptoms of ENS but it doesn’t mean that every turbinectomy will lead to it. A turbinectomy is a procedure that removes part or all of the turbinate structure in the wall of the nose, in order to make the nasal passages larger and make breathing easier. Historically, turbinectomy was undertaken rather more aggressively with removal of a large part of the inner nasal lining. Nowadays it is customary to preserve as much functioning mucosa as possible, thereby vastly reducing the risk of developing ENS.
- Nasal bleeding
- Difficulty breathing
- Soreness and inflammation
- Weakened sense of smell and taste
- Sleep issues
- Inhaled air seeming too cold or dry
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix or easy treatment for ENS. Temporary symptom relief is the main goal of most treatments. Saline drips and gels can help to relieve the dryness of the nose but they can also remove beneficial mucus meaning bacteria can spread to the nasal cavity more easily. Antibiotic nasal sprays are advised alongside saline treatments due to this risk.
There are some home remedies that can relieve the symptoms of ENS:
- Using a humidifier at night
- Using a CPAP machine to help with breathing
- Hot soups and hot liquids can ease symptoms
- Living somewhere warm and humid
ENS is often diagnosed once other conditions that can cause similar symptoms have been ruled out. A cotton test used to be performed by the doctor if they suspected ENS, which involved a small piece of wet cotton being held where the turbinate would be. If this gives relief than the person could be an ENS sufferer. This test is rarely performed nowadays as it is not sufficiently reliable.