Have you been struggling with cold-like symptoms for an extended period of time? Have you tried everything and still can't find relief? If so, you might not have a cold at all. You could actually be suffering from nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are a relatively common condition, affecting approximately four percent of the population. If you think nasal polyps could be causing your discomfort, keep reading. Listed below are some of the most common symptoms of nasal polyps, along with tips on how to treat them.
What are Nasal Polyps?
Nasal polyps are small, benign (meaning they're noncancerous) growths that appear in the mucosa (lining tissues) of the nose and may block the nasal passageway.
Types of Nasal Polyps
There are two different types of nasal polyps: ethmoidal polyps and antrochoanal polyps. Ethmoidal polyps are the most common type. They develop from the ethmoidal sinuses, which are located between the nose and the eyes. Antrochoanal polyps are less common. They develop in the maxillary sinuses, which are located above the teeth and below the cheeks and nose.
What Causes Them?
Nasal polyps occur when you develop problems with your nasal mucosa. The nasal mucosa is meant to be very wet. This protects the inside of the nose and sinuses. It also humidifies the air as you breathe it in. When you experience an infection or irritation from allergies, your nasal mucosa can become red, dry, and swollen. If the irritation goes on for too long, polyps can form.
People with the following conditions are more likely to develop nasal polyps:
- Chronic Sinus Infections
- Allergic Rhinitis (also known as "hay fever"
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Sensitivity to NSAIDs like Ibuprofen and Aspirin
- Churg-Strauss Syndrome
Some people also have a hereditary tendency to develop polyps.
Symptoms of Nasal Polyps
Often, nasal polyps are soft and painless. They also lack nerve sensation, so you might have them and not even realize it until they begin to grow larger and block your nasal passages. When this happens, you may begin to experience the following symptoms:
- Chronic nasal congestion
- A runny nose
- Postnasal drip (mucus running down the back of the throat)
- Reduced sense of smell
- A need to breathe through your mouth
- A feeling of pressure in the face or forehead
- Sleep apnea
Sometimes, people with nasal polyps develop chronic sinus infections as well. When this happens, sinus pain and headaches often occur along with the polyps.
Diagnosing Nasal Polyps
To determine whether or not you have nasal polyps, your ENT will first look into your nasal passages with a special lighted instrument known as a nasoscope. If they can't see any polyps, they may perform a nasal endoscopy to figure out where the polyps are located.
A nasal endoscopy requires your doctor to guide a thin, flexible tube with a camera and light attached to the end into your nasal passageways.
Your doctor may also want to perform a CT or MRI scan to figure out exactly where the polyps are located and how big they are. These scans can also help your doctor figure out if the polyps have grown so large that they are causing deformations to the bone.
If your doctor determines that you have nasal polyps, your doctor may perform additional tests to figure out what caused them, such as allergy tests to see if an allergic reaction is causing the irritation in your nose and sinuses.
When children experience nasal polyps, doctors often perform tests to check for conditions like cystic fibrosis.
How to Treat Nasal Polyps
There are a few different methods that doctors can utilize to treat nasal polyps.
Doctors will typically start by recommending either nasal or oral steroid medications. These drugs can minimize inflammation and may reduce the size of the polyps. This, in turn, can help relieve symptoms of nasal polyps, especially congestion and a runny nose. Nasal steroids that are sprayed into the nose are usually the first option doctors will recommend. Some common nasal steroids include:
These drugs can minimize inflammation and may reduce the size of the polyps. This, in turn, can help relieve symptoms of nasal polyps, especially congestion and a runny nose.
These sprays can be helpful, but they are also problematic since symptoms tend to come back once you stop using them. Your doctor might also recommend prednisone, either in oral or injectable form if nasal sprays aren't effective. Oral and injectable steroids aren't recommended for long-term use, either. This is because they come with some serious side effects, such as fluid retention, elevated eye pressure, and increased blood pressure. Medications that reduce inflammation may help reduce the size of the polyp and relieve symptoms of congestion.
In some cases, surgery is the best option for removing nasal polyps. To perform a polypectomy, a physician specializing in sinuses will use either a microdebrider or a small suction device to remove this extra tissue in your nose and sinuses, including some of the mucosa. For larger polyps, some doctors may want to perform endoscopic sinus surgery. This surgery involves the use of an endoscope to locate and remove the polyps.
Preventing Polyps from Coming Back
If your nasal polyps are caused by allergies or recurring sinus infections, your doctor may recommend antihistamines or antibiotics. You may also want to consider a new type of surgery to permanently relieve sinus swelling and pressure. Traditional sinus surgeries are quite invasive and come with long recovery time. But, some doctors are starting to use new procedures that take less time, are much safer, have a long-lasting outcome and come with quicker recovery. One such procedure is our OPEN procedure, which involves inflating a tiny balloon to open the sinuses and help them drain more efficiently. After the procedure, you can use nasal sprays and/or saline washes to minimize inflammation and keep future polyps at bay.
However, if you are someone gets recurring polyps which simply do not seem to go away, we have added a new technology called Sinuva which is dramatically helping our Arizona patients! For more information on this new cost-effective and safe procedure, call us for an appointment!
Get Immediate Help Today
After reading about the common symptoms of nasal polyps, do you think they could be affecting you? If you live in the Phoenix or Scottsdale area, contact us at Sinus and Allergy Wellness Center right now to request an appointment for a no-obligation consultation and a SAME DAY appointment! We offer a variety of services that can help you finally start feeling more like your old self- and help you enjoy life again!