Nasal Polyps

A nasal polyp is a swelling of the mucous membrane of the nose or sinus. It develops in response to chronic inflammation. Nasal polyps are often the cause of many symptoms of sinusitis. The formation of a nasal polyp sometimes results from seasonal or household allergies, but they can also form in other circumstances.

Symptoms of Nasal Polyps

People with polyps in their nose or sinus cavity may experience a range of symptoms, including nasal obstruction, a decreased sense of smell, pressure in the cheeks and around the nose, and a lot of drainage of mucous from the nose. Repeated sinus infections are also an indication of nasal or sinus polyps. When you have a nasal or sinus polyp, you might feel as if you have a persistent cold or sinus infection that never gets any better. Many people also experience problems with the quality of their voice because of the blocked nose or sinus. Nasal polyps can occur in conjunction with asthma and a sensitivity to aspirin. Altogether, this situation is called Samter’s triad. Another name for it is aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease, or AERD.

Nasal Polyps 1 UCI Head Neck - Nasal Polyps
Nasal Polyps 2 UCI Head Neck - Nasal Polyps

Diagnosing Nasal Polyps

If a doctor suspects that you have nasal polyps, the condition can be confirmed with a simple endoscopic examination. An endoscopic exam makes use of a small telescope that is inserted into your nostril. The doctor is able to examine your nose and sinuses in detail and visualize any polyps. A computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan of your sinuses can provide the doctor with more detailed information about the exact location of the polyps within your nasal or sinus cavities. These imaging studies also show the extent and size of the nasal or sinus polyps.

Treatment Methods for Nasal Polyps

The initial method of treating nasal polyps usually includes taking oral anti-inflammatory medications in order to decrease the size of the polyps. In many people, this method alone is effective at reducing the severity of nasal and sinus symptoms.

In patients with large or multiple nasal or sinus polyps, sinus surgery may be needed. The surgery is done to remove the polyp. One of the benefits of having sinus surgery is that the procedure removes tissue that has been irreversibly diseased. The removal of the diseased tissue also makes it easier to deliver medications. After surgery, it is important to continue with the doctor’s recommended regimen of medications. Some patients may need to take medications for the long-term in order to prevent the regrowth of polyps or to stop new polyps from growing in other sinuses.

Your doctor will need to check on your nasal and sinus cavities on a regular basis to see if any new polyps are beginning to form. If your doctor finds any early or small swellings in the mucous membranes of your nose or sinuses, it may be possible to treat them medically before they cause symptoms or necessitate another surgery.

Nasal Polyps 3 UCI Head Neck - Nasal Polyps