Nasal Polyps

1 What are Nasal Polyps?

Nasal polyps are benign or noncancerous growths found on the lining of the sinuses. They are relatively painless and are usually caused by allergies, infection, asthma, and even drug sensitivity. 

While small polyps may be unnoticeable because of the absence of symptoms, a group of polyps or growth that are larger in size can cause blocking of the nasal passages. Treatment options include medications and surgery. 

2 Symptoms

Here are the signs and symptoms of nasal polyps to watch out for:

  • Runny nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Stuffiness 
  • Affected sense of smell (may lose the sense of smell partially or completely)
  • Affected sense of taste
  • Pain on the face, particularly around the nose and cheeks
  • Headache
  • Toothache
  • Feeling of intense pressure on your face and forehead
  • Itchy eyes
  • Snoring

Most often, nasal polyps come with chronic sinusitis or the inflammation of the nasal lining and sinuses. Nevertheless, it does not mean you have nasal polyps if you have chronic sinusitis

If you are experiencing symptoms for more or less 10 days, see a doctor. The symptoms of having nasal polyps are very similar with the symptoms of a common cold and many other common conditions. However, if you have serious difficulty in breathing, seeing double, have limited or reduced vision, have a sudden,  severe headache or just simply find it very difficult to tip your head forward, go seek emergency help.

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3 Causes

Experts are not still aware of the exact causes of nasal polyps.

It is still unclear why some people are prone to chronic inflammation that triggers them, while some people can get away from it easily.

However, evidence show that in people who develop nasal polyps, the immune system responds in a different manner. 

4 Making a Diagnosis

Your doctor can usually make a diagnosis of nasal polyps based on your answers to questions about your symptoms, a general physical exam and an examination of your nose.

If you have ticked out a number of symptoms, then it only means you have to see your doctor. Your doctor, however, may ask you to visit a specialist of the ear, nose, and throat or an allergist for better diagnosis and treatment. 

Getting ready for your appointment. Here are the things to do to help you make the most out of your visit to the doctor’s:

When making your appointment, do not forget to ask if you will undergo some diagnostic tests and what are the steps to do in preparation.

Make a list of the symptoms you feel, even if you think they have nothing to do with your nose. 

List down your medical conditions, if there are any. 

List down the medications and supplements you are taking or have taken recently. 

Apart from the things mentioned above, it is also advisable to write down any question you want to ask your doctor. Doing this can make the most out your doctor hour. You might want to know the causes of your health problem, or is there any likelihood of complications. 

You may also want to ask the kinds of tests required, and what are the steps necessary to help alleviate your symptoms. Will the insurance cover the cost of surgery, if needed? 

Diagnostic tests include:

5 Treatment

The treatment plan for nasal polyps includes managing the symptoms and other factors that could probably trigger them. If you have allergies, chronic sinusitis, and other problems with the nasal passage, they should first be cleared up. Nasal polyps can be removed using medications and sometimes, with surgery.

Medications

Medications can help reduce the size of the polyps or can even eliminate them completely. Medications include nasal corticosteroids, which typically come in spray form. 

Corticosteroid sprays used for nasal polyps treatment include fluticasone, budesonide, flunisolide, mometasone, triamcinolone, beclomethasone, and ciclesonide. Moreover, if nasal corticosteroid sprays won’t work, oral or injectable ones are prescribed.

Aside from corticosteroids, your doctor may advise taking drugs that may help treat other underlying conditions that might be causing the inflammation. Antihistamines are typically prescribed as allergy treatment while antibiotics are used to treat infections. 

Surgery

If the polyps seem to be resistant to drug treatment, surgery is advised. An endoscopic surgery may be done to remove the growths as well as to correct any abnormalities with the sinuses that might be the cause of polyp development. The surgery is usually an outpatient procedure, which means you can go home shortly after the procedure.

6 Prevention

You may help prevent your chances of developing nasal polyps or to stop it from recurring after treatment, the following is advised:

  • Follow doctor’s orders to keep allergies and asthma attacks at bay. If you think your maintenance medicines do not work well, talk to your doctor about other medication options. 
  • Avoid things that could possibly irritate your nasal passage. Allergens such as cigarette smoke, dust, chemical fumes, and pollen can trigger inflammation of the sinuses, so keep away from them.
  • Keep yourself clean. Practicing good hygiene like washing your hands often is probably one of the best ways to keep away viruses and bacteria.
  • Humidify. To help improve the quality of air in your home, use a humidifier. The moist air will help keep your nasal passages moisturized, thus improving mucus flow and preventing inflammation. 
  • Irrigate your nose. By using saline spray or nasal rinse, irrigate your nasal passage regularly to keep them moisturized. This will also help improve mucus flow and keep away allergens and irritants.

7 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with nasal polyps.

You may have a higher risk of having nasal polyps if you experience conditions that often trigger sinus inflammation. These conditions include:

When left untreated, nasal polyps can cause complications due to blocked airflow and abnormal fluid drainage. Nasal polyps and the chronic inflammation that usually comes with it may cause the following complications:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea- This is a serious condition in which you frequently stop breathing while sleeping.
  • Sinus Infections- You are more prone to sinus infections if you have nasal polyps.
  • Asthma attacks- Asthma can be the cause of chronic inflammation, but it can also be the complication. 
  • Infection of the eye sockets - When there’s chronic inflammation in the sinuses, the infection may possibly spread to your eye socket. This infection can cause the eyes to swell. You may experience inability to move the eyes, your vision can be impaired, or worst, you can go permanently blind.
  • Meningitis- The infection around your nose area can spread to your spine and brain, thus giving you a fatal condition called meningitis.
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