Nasal Polyps: Your 2-Minute Guide

nasal polypsWhat are nasal polyps?
Nasal polyps are painless, soft growths that appear on the lining of the sinuses or nasal passages. Commonly, these teardrop-shaped growths are benign and occur in middle-aged and young adults. People with small polyps may not experience any symptoms. However, a group of polyps or large polyps can affect your sense of smell and they can cause breathing problems and infections.

What exactly triggers polyps is not known. However, what is known is that the polyps commonly occur when the nasal passage lining is inflamed. This inflammation can occur due to allergies, drug sensitivity, frequent infections, asthma or immune disorders.

People with polyps may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
• Diminished or lost sense of taste and smell
• Upper tooth pain
• Forehead pressure or headaches
• Excessive snoring
• Itchiness around the eyes
• A runny nose
• Frequent sneezing
• Nasal obstruction

Polyps in the nose can become extremely large to the point where they push against the nasal bones. This may result in broadening of the nasal bridge. Your nose may appear wider and this can affect the way you look, and ultimately your self-esteem may suffer. People with a family history of nasal polyps are more likely to develop the condition.

To diagnose polyps in the nose, your doctor will examine the nasal cavity with a nasal endoscope. He or she may have the polyp tested to exclude cancer. Additionally, the doctor may also perform a skin allergy test to determine whether it’s allergies that are responsible for the inflammation. It’s not common for children to have nasal polyps, but if this does occur, it may be an indication of cystic fibrosis, a condition which affects the digestive and respiratory system.

Drug treatment
To treat polyps, your doctor can prescribe a corticosteroid nasal spray, which can reduce the size of the polyps or eliminated them completely. If the nasal corticosteroid spray isn’t effective, an oral corticosteroid can be used with it. If this combination doesn’t work, your doctor may opt to inject the polyps with a corticosteroid. Other medications your doctor may prescribe can include antibiotics to treat frequent infections and antihistamines to treat allergies.

Surgical treatment
If the polyps in the nose are large in size and drug treatment doesn’t work, surgery may be another option. Surgery commonly occurs on an outpatient basis where the patient goes home on the same day of the procedure. During the surgical procedure the polyps are removed from the nose with a small nasal telescope. After surgery the use of corticosteroid nasal spray is recommended, because the nasal polyps may come back.

To prevent getting polyps, or to keep them from reoccurring, you must treat and manage allergies and asthma, avoid breathing in irritants, such as chemical fumes and cigarette smoke, and wash your hands frequently to avoid viral and bacterial infections. Humidifiers in your home and an occasional nasal rinse can also help remove allergens from the nasal passages.

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