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 asthma and allergic rhinitis. Children with cystic fibrosis are also at a higher risk of developing nasal polyps. Many adults with allergic reactions to aspirin-containing products often have a special form of nasal polyps, known as Samter’s Triad, or ASA-sensitive Respiratory Disease.
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 under the care and supervision of Dr. Gerencer may include steroid pills and various non-steroidal alternatives including montelukast and zilueton. Corticosteroids may also be administered in other forms for patients who have already undergone sinus surgery. These forms include nasal steroid sprays, steroids dissolved in saline for irrigating the nose, injecting high potency steroids in low doses directly into polyps in the office, as well as the placement of steroid-eluting implants, such as Sinuva. 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 should only be undertaken for patients who are symptomatic.
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 salt water nasal rinse
- Avoid irritants such as smoke, chemicals, and dust
At Breathe America, Inc., Dr. Gerencer and his team employ a surveillance program for nasal polyps customized to each patient’s particular situation employing a variety of combinations of different anti-inflammatory medications. We are also actively involved in several clinical trials investigating different medications and/or implants to shrink or eliminate nasal polyps.