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3 powerful Breathing Exercises to overcome Swollen Turbinates

Updated: 1 day ago

When your nose is congested, it's more than an irritation—it directly affects your sleep, exercise, and focus. This stuffiness often comes from swollen turbinates, small structures in your nose that can block airflow when inflamed.

What Causes Your Nose to Block?

Inside your nose, turbinates work to make the air you breathe clean and comfortable. But when they swell, breathing becomes hard. This swelling can come from allergies, a cold, or other irritants.

Why Breathing Exercises?

Instead of temporary fixes like sprays, breathing exercises offer lasting relief. They're simple and costless, and you can do them anywhere.

The Role of Breathing Exercises for Swollen Turbinates

A young man breathing freely and deeply

Breathing Exercises: A Natural Approach to Swollen Turbinates

Breathing exercises are a natural approach to managing swollen turbinates. They work by altering the carbon dioxide levels in your blood, which can help reduce inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages. This can lead to improved airflow and easier breathing.

The Connection Between Proper Breathing and Nasal Passage Health

Proper breathing is crucial for maintaining the health of your nasal passages. It ensures that the turbinates - the structures responsible for filtering and humidifying the air you breathe - are not overworked.

Overworking can lead to swelling and blockage. By adopting correct breathing techniques, you can support the health of your nasal passages and reduce the risk of turbinate swelling.

Breathing Exercises for Relief

Exercise 1: Diaphragmatic Breathing

How to do it:

  1. Sit comfortably or lie flat on your back.

  2. Place one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.

  3. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.

  4. Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.

  5. Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.

Benefits: This technique helps to reduce the effort of breathing by engaging the diaphragm more efficiently, potentially decreasing the demand on the turbinates and reducing swelling.

Exercise 2: Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhanam)

How to do it:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your legs crossed.

  2. Place your left hand on your knee and your right thumb against your right nostril.

  3. Close your right nostril and inhale slowly through the left nostril.

  4. Close the left nostril with your fingers, then open the right nostril and exhale slowly.

  5. Keep the left nostril closed, and inhale through the right nostril.

  6. Close the right nostril and open the left, then exhale through the left nostril.

  7. This completes one cycle. Perform 5 to 10 cycles.

Benefits: Alternate nostril breathing can help to clear and open the nasal passages, balance the sides of the brain, and calm the nervous system.

Exercise 3: The Buteyko Breathing Method

How to do it:

  1. Sit upright and relax your body.

  2. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.

  3. Take a small, silent breath in and out through your nose.

  4. After exhaling, pinch your nose to hold your breath. Nod your head or sway your body until you feel the need to breathe again.

  5. When you need to breathe, keep it controlled and through the nose.

  6. Repeat several times until you feel your nasal passages clear.

Benefits: The Buteyko Method may help to reduce nasal congestion and improve overall breathing efficiency.

Tips for maximizing the effectiveness of these exercises:

  • Practice regularly, ideally at the same time each day.

  • Maintain good posture to allow for unobstructed breathing.

  • Start slowly and increase the duration of your practice as you become more comfortable.

  • If you experience any discomfort, pause and resume normal breathing.

Remember, while these exercises are helpful, they are part of a comprehensive approach to managing turbinate swelling. For some, dietary changes can also make a significant difference.

Our overview of Surgical Options for Turbinate Hypertrophy provides valuable information on available treatments for those considering medical interventions.

Complementary Techniques to Free Nose Blockages

In addition to breathing exercises, there are other supportive techniques that can further enhance your nasal health and complement the benefits of improved breathing.

Here's a snapshot of these complementary methods:

  • Sinus Massage: Aids in alleviating congestion through targeted pressure points. Experience relief from congestion with our quick 3-minute daily sinus and turbinate massage routine.

  • Improving Air Quality: Enhances nasal health by reducing irritants that can cause inflammation.

  • Dietary Adjustments for Turbinate Health: Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods can be crucial in managing turbinate swelling.

When to Consider Medical Intervention

Home remedies and breathing exercises can relieve swollen turbinates, but sometimes, they may not suffice, especially in severe cases. Knowing when to seek medical advice is key to preventing complications and ensuring optimal nasal health.

Recognizing when home remedies are not enough

If you have ongoing symptoms, trouble sleeping from breathing problems, constant nasal blockages, regular nosebleeds, or a loss of smell or taste, it's time to see a doctor.

Overview of medical treatments for persistent turbinate problems

If swollen turbinates are causing chronic discomfort, medical treatments may be necessary.

Here are some surgical options to consider, which should be discussed with an ENT specialist:

  • Turbinate Reduction Surgery: Reduces the size of the turbinates to improve airflow.

  • Septoplasty: Corrects a deviated septum, often performed in conjunction with turbinate reduction.

  • Radiofrequency Ablation: Uses radio waves to shrink turbinate tissue.

  • Cryosurgery: Applies extreme cold to reduce turbinate size without traditional surgical methods.

  • Laser Turbinoplasty: Utilizes a laser to remove excess turbinate tissue.

Each of these procedures has its benefits and risks, and the best option varies from person to person. For a detailed exploration of these surgical treatments, including what to expect and recovery times, check out our comprehensive guide on Surgical Options for Turbinate Hypertrophy.

It's crucial to remember that while non-invasive methods are a great first step, ongoing issues with nasal congestion might require these more advanced medical interventions.


To conclude, breathing exercises such as diaphragmatic breathing, Alternate Nostril Breathing, and the Buteyko method offer a promising avenue for those struggling with swollen turbinates. These techniques, when performed consistently, can significantly alleviate nasal congestion and improve respiratory function.

It's important to integrate these exercises into your daily routine for the best outcomes. While they are not an instant cure, with regular practice, they can lead to sustained improvements in nasal health, reducing the need for temporary fixes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I perform breathing exercises for swollen turbinates?

For best results, aim to perform breathing exercises daily. Consistency is key to reducing inflammation and improving nasal passage health.

Can breathing exercises replace medical treatment for turbinate issues?

Are there any side effects to breathing exercises?

How quickly can I expect results from breathing exercises?

Is it possible to completely cure swollen turbinates with breathing exercises?

Can children perform these breathing exercises for swollen turbinates?

Should I perform breathing exercises if I have a nasal infection?


  • Breathing Techniques for Nasal Blockage: Harley Street ENT explores how breathing exercises can be a powerful tool for clearing nasal blocks and enhancing turbinate health.

  • Unlocking Nasal Passages Naturally: Buteyko Breathing NZ provides a simple exercise to clear a blocked nose, promoting better nasal breathing and turbinate function.

  • Navigating Nasal Congestion: Ashford Clinic's guide offers insight into the anatomy of nasal congestion, including the septum and turbinates, and how to manage it.

  • Sinus Health Through Breathing: Detroit Sinus Center discusses how specific breathing exercises can improve sinus health and alleviate turbinate issues.

  • The Importance of Nasal Breathing: The Breathing Clinic emphasizes the 'use it or lose it' principle for nasal health, with a focus on maintaining clear turbinates.


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