Enlarged Turbinates in Children: Care Instructions

Skip Navigation

Your Care Instructions

The turbinates are thin, bony plates inside the nose. Allergies or a lengthy cold can irritate them and cause them to swell, or enlarge. The swelling makes it hard for your child to breathe. Another cause of the swelling is overuse of decongestant nasal sprays.

Sometimes it is not clear why turbinates swell. In most cases, swelling does not cause pain. But it can feel like an object is blocking one side of the nose.

Your doctor may do tests to be sure about what is causing the problem. He or she may prescribe a steroid spray to reduce swelling. Your doctor may advise you to stop giving your child over-the-counter nasal sprays.

If the turbinate swelling does not go down, your child may need surgery to open the nasal passage.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child take medicines or use nasal sprays exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with the medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier to add moisture to your child's bedroom. Follow the directions for cleaning the machine.
  • Use saline (saltwater) nasal washes to help keep your child's nasal passages open. This washes out mucus and allergens. You can buy saline nose sprays at a grocery store or pharmacy. Follow the instructions on the package. Or you can make your own at home. Add 1 teaspoon of non-iodized salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 2 cups of distilled water or boiled and cooled water. Fill a squeeze bottle with the nasal wash. Then gently put the tip into your child's nostril, and have them lean over the sink. Your child's mouth should be open as you gently squirt the liquid into the nose. Repeat on the other side.
  • Keep your child away from smoke. Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke around your child or in your house.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.