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What You Need To Know About Empty Nose Syndrome

Empty nose syndrome (ENS) is a rare disorder that mostly affects the nose and nasal passages. This condition is common in people who underwent surgery to treat symptoms such as itchy throats, stuffy noses, constant post-nasal drip, and sinus infection. Surgery such as turbinectomy can also bring about symptoms of ENS.

Causes of Empty Nose Syndrome

Many people have a deviated septum, which is corrected through surgery. A deviated septum is the condition where the cartilage and structure that runs vertically through the center of the nose is off-center and can sometimes hamper a person’s ability to breathe normally.  Most people who undergo this surgery to correct a deviated septum do recover without any related problems. There are, however, cases of people developing the symptoms of empty nose syndrome after turbinate reductions.   

ENS is often difficult to diagnose, and once diagnosed, there is no consensus in the medical community as to the effectiveness of any particular treatment.

Symptoms Of Empty Nose Syndrome

There are various symptoms of ENS. While some patients complain that they are unable to inhale a complete breath through their nose, other symptoms may include:

  • Sleep disorders such as difficulty sleeping
  • Diminished sense of smell or taste
  • Inflammation and pain
  • Not being able to breathe
  • Lack of mucus
  • Headache
  • Feeling too much air is entering the nose
  • Lack of breathing sensation
  • Nasal bleeding
  • Nasal obstruction even though the passageways are clear
  • Feeling that inhaled air is too cold or too dry

Treatment

There is no proven treatment for ENS and most patients with ENS have to live with the condition for the rest of their lives. Treatments that are available are aimed at relieving the symptoms temporarily. Some of the at-home treatments that can provide relief include:

  • Eating plenty of hot liquids and soups
  • Living in warm, humid environments
  • Sleeping with a CPAP machine to aid in breathing
  • Sleeping with a humidifier

As you can see, suffering from ENS can have adverse effects on their quality of life. The big question is what happens when you suffer from ENS due to medical negligence?

Is It Malpractice If ENS Develops After Turbinate Reduction ?

There have been several cases where patients suffer from ENS following a surgery that was designed to correct a deviated septum. Some patients experience symptoms of ENS immediately after the surgery, while others take a few weeks or even months before experiencing the symptoms. While some physicians contend it is almost, always wrong to perform turbinate reductions, other physicians endorse the practice. 

The current state of the law in New Jersey says that if there are two respectable schools of thought regarding the propriety of a procedure, a doctor is free to choose which school of thought to follow. Also, although physicians have an obligation to inform their patients about possible common complications that may develop after surgery, they are not required to discuss risks that are rare or remote.  In our opinion, the current state of the law is not favorable for pursuing ENS cases. However, that may change if a consensus develops in the medical community regarding the undesirability of turbinate reductions.

 

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