What Are Nasal Polyps?

September 05, 2017
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Nasal polyps, which are benign growths that can develop in the nose or sinus cavities, are not life-threatening, but they can cause uncomfortable symptoms and lead to recurrent sinus infections. Unlike polyps that can develop elsewhere in the body, nasal polyps rarely develop into cancer.

Nasal Polyp Symptoms:

Small polyps typically do not cause symptoms and do not necessarily require treatment. Large polyps, however, can prevent the sinuses from draining properly. This can allow mucus to build up in the sinuses, which can ultimately lead to infection. Common symptoms of nasal polyps include:

• a stuffy nose or a sensation that the nose is blocked,
• an inability to smell or taste,
• recurrent sinus infections,
• frequent sneezing,
• a runny nose,
• postnasal drip,
• frontal and maxillary facial pain, and
• itching around the eyes.

If left untreated, large nasal polyps may even change the shape of the nose.

Risk Factors for Nasal Polyps:

Nasal polyps are most often seen in middle-aged adults and are more common in men than women. Although it is unclear why some people develop polyps, some experts suggest that they may be caused by chronic inflammation or even run in families. Nasal polyps have been linked to other respiratory and allergic conditions, including asthma, allergic rhinitis, and aspirin allergies. Individuals with nasal polyps may also notice that they are sensitive to strong odors, fumes, chemicals, and dusts.

Diagnosing and Treating Nasal Polyps:

A doctor can determine if you have nasal polyps by examining your nose and sinuses with a nasal endoscope. For many patients, nasal sprays containing a corticosteroid or oral steroids, such as prednisone, are effective in shrinking the size of the polyps so that they are no longer symptomatic. Taking antihistamines to control allergies may help prevent further irritation to the nose and sinuses that can cause the polyps to return. If you have an active sinus infection, you may need a course of antibiotics before starting any other therapies.

If your polyps are extremely large or unresponsive to corticosteroids, surgery may be an option. This is an outpatient procedure in which the doctor uses a small nasal telescope to remove the polyps.

If you are experiencing frequent sinus infections or congestion, contact Dr. Chacko to schedule an appointment.