Nasal polyps are painless benign growths on the inside lining of the nose or sinuses. They are soft and noncancerous growths located on the lining of your nasal passages. These polyps hang down like teardrops or grapes. If you have congestion in your nasal passage that does not go away, it could be from chronic inflammation of your nasal polyps. These can be associated with asthma, infection, allergies, and certain immune disorders. Large polyps can even change the shape of your nose. If you struggle with nasal polyps or are looking for a proper diagnosis and treatment, schedule an appointment with a professional today.
Symptoms of Nasal Polyps
The most common symptoms of nasal polyps are a loss of sense of smell, nasal obstruction, runny nose or congestion. Some people also have sinus infections and sensitivity to odors, dust, and chemicals. Nasal polyps also make you more likely to have long-term sinusitis.
Other symptoms include:
- Nasal obstruction
- Trouble with sense of smell and taste
- Runny nose/Congestion
- Itching around eyes
- Postnasal drip
How do Nasal Polyps Form?
Nasal polyps grow in inflamed tissue of the nasal mucosa. Some people believe the growth of polyps is prompted by your immune system or the chemical makeup in the lining of your nose and sinuses. The mucosa is a wet layer that protects the inside of your nose and sinuses and humidifies the air you breathe.
When you have an infection, the nasal mucosa becomes swollen and red, and may produce fluid that drips out. With prolonged irritation, the mucosa may form a polyp.
How are Nasal Polyps Diagnosed?
Nasal polyps can cause complications when they block airflow and fluid drainage, as well as cause long-term irritation and swelling. Nasal polyps are typically visible if your ENT doctor looks up into your nasal passage with a lighted instrument. If the polyp is deep into your sinuses, your doctor may need to perform a nasal endoscopy and a CAT scan of your sinuses.
A nasal endoscopy is typically performed in an otolaryngologist's office where they evaluate your sinus and nasal passages. A nasal endoscope is used and is an instrument that consists of a thin, rigid fiber-optic tube. It connects to a video camera and light where magnified images of your nasal passages are projected onto a screen.
The Importance of Treatment
Nasal polyps can result in irritation and other health complications. They may also indicate an underlying medical condition, such as allergies. That is why it is important to seek professional diagnosis and treatment for nasal polyps.
Ear, nose and throat doctors–like the physicians at Sierra Nevada ENT–specialize in managing symptoms and reducing or eliminating nasal polyps. Common treatment options include:
- Corticosteroids: Prescribing a corticosteroid is often the first step to treating nasal polyps. This anti-inflammatory drug works to reduce swelling and irritation, resulting in diminished polyps. Typically, corticosteroids take the form of a nasal spray, though oral or injectable corticosteroids may be an option in more extreme cases.
- Antihistamines or allergy shots: If the nasal polyps are the result of allergic rhinitis, it is important to manage the underlying allergy by identifying and avoiding the irritant. If avoidance is not possible, a regimen including antihistamines, decongestants or allergy shots may be necessary.
- Antibiotics: If the nasal polyps are the result of a sinus infection, antibiotics will be prescribed to fight the underlying bacterial infection.
Saline sprays, nasal rinses and humidifiers may also be used to keep nasal passages moist and reduce inflammation.
These treatment options are safe and highly effective ways to slow the growth or shrink nasal polyps. In some cases, however, surgery may be necessary to fully remove the growth.
If your symptoms from nasal polyps do not improve, surgery can remove the polyps. The type of surgery required depends on the extent of the polyps.
A polypectomy is an outpatient surgery done with a small suction device that cuts and removes soft tissue.
An endoscopic sinus surgery is used for larger polyps, but is also typically an outpatient procedure. Your doctor can perform this procedure using a thin, small endoscope attached to a camera. Your ENT doctor will guide the endoscope into your nostrils, find the obstructions, and remove them.
After surgery, nasal sprays and saline washes can help prevent polyps from returning.
While surgery may sound daunting, no incision is required to remove nasal polyps. As a result, it is a relatively minor procedure that can dramatically improve your health situation.
That being said, it is critical to note that surgery is the ONLY way to get rid of nasal polyps. Despite misinformation circulated on the internet, there is no safe, effective way to remove the polyps yourself, and attempts to do so may lead to infection, blood loss or other complications. Call Sierra Nevada ENT today for a professional, medical diagnosis and nasal polyps treatment plan.
Book an Appointment
To meet with our highly-skilled team to discuss your nasal polyps and other sinus problems at Sierra Nevada Ear Nose & Throat, please give us a call or schedule an appointment at one of our three locations.