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.
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.
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.
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