Nasal polyps are benign growths that develop within the lining of the nasal passages or sinuses. If large enough, these growths may block the passages and cause breathing difficulties, sinus infections or other complications. Nasal polyps can affect anyone, but they occur more frequently in adults. Medications may shrink or eliminate nasal polyps, but surgery is sometimes needed to remove them.
Symptoms of Nasal Polyps
Most patients with nasal polyps may experience the following symptoms:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Facial pain
- Loss of smell or taste
- Sinus pressure
If the nasal polyp is small, patients may not experience any symptoms and may be unaware that they even have a nasal polyp.
Causes of Nasal Polyps
Nasal polyps are most common in adults, especially those that have asthma or allergies. The exact cause of nasal polyps is not known, however, they often develop in occurrence with respiratory diseases such as sinusitis and allergic rhinitis or with immunodeficiency conditions. Children with cystic fibrosis are also at a higher risk of developing nasal polyps.
Diagnosis of Nasal Polyps
Nasal polyps are commonly diagnosed by a doctor or otolaryngologist who will review the patient's symptoms and perform a physical examination of the nose. A lighted instrument is commonly used to look inside the nose through a procedure called a nasal endoscopy. Additional diagnostic tests may include:
- Allergy tests
- CT Scan
- Cystic Fibrosis test for children
Treatment of Nasal Polyps
Treatment for nasal polyps is often provided through medications that can reduce the size of the polyp or even eliminate it. Medication such as corticosteroids may be administered in the form of pills or nasal sprays. If allergies are the cause of the nasal polyps, allergy medications may be given or antibiotics may be prescribed to treat recurring nasal infections.
Surgery may be required to remove the polyp if medication is unsuccessful. Surgery for nasal polyps may include:
Polypectomy - Suctions out the polyp
Endoscopic Sinus Surgery - Carefully removes the polyp with tiny instruments guided by an endoscope
Prevention of Nasal Polyps
Not all nasal polyps can be prevented, however, the following recommendations may help in minimizing the occurrence of nasal polyps:
- Use a humidifier
- Treat allergies and colds
- Use a saline or saltwater nasal rinse
- Avoid irritants such as smoke, chemicals and dust
- National Institutes of Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- U.S. National Library of Medicine
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