You Don’t Have to Suffer with Nasal Polyps!
What are nasal polyps?
When chronic inflammation frequently recurs in the nasal cavity, growths can develop on the mucus lining of one’s sinuses. These soft, pale, teardrop or grape-shaped growths are called Nasal Polyposis or Nasal Polyps. While the polyps are painless and range from mild and unnoticed to obstructively large in size, they can block the nasal passageways and cause problems with breathing.
People prone to this condition are those who cope with environmental allergies, frequent sinus infections, asthma, extreme sensitivity to aspirin, and certain immune disorders. Nasal polyps can occur at any age, however they are more common after age 40 and more prevalent in men than women. Children who have cystic fibrosis also tend to experience polyps in their nose.
Nasal polyps can occur in both nostrils or sinuses, and may gradually grow larger.
While the etiology of nasal polyps is not fully known, there are several likely potential causes. Due to chronic inflammation or rhinosinusitis that lasts more than 12 weeks, a reactive hyperplasia occurs of the mucous membranes within one’s sinus lining, and this results in the formation of polyps. Oedema (or the swelling) of the nasal cavity is caused by recurrent sinus infections, asthma, and allergies. Other causes can be aspirin sensitivity, cystic fibrosis and rare immune conditions such as Churg-Strauss syndrome and allergic fungal sinusitis.
Regarding the pathophysiology of nasal polyp formation, there are many theoretical causes. Some include glandular cysts or hyperplasia, adenoma and fibroma, ion transport, chronic sinusitis and more. Heretics may also be a contributing component to nasal polyps.
Though most nasal polyps are benign tumors, they can impair a person’s quality of life with irritating and uncomfortable symptoms. The most common symptom is a blocked feeling in one’s nose. Other symptoms may be moderate or quite severe, like:
- decreased, dulled or lost sense of smell & taste
- stuffy nose / nasal congestion
- facial pain / sinus pressure
- obstructive sleep apnea
- bloody nasal discharge
- post nasal drainage
- difficulty breathing
- sinus infection
- runny nose
Polyps of substantial size can press upon the nerves that connect the eyes and brain, and even alter one’s facial structure. Rare symptoms of big, untreated nasal polyps can lead to double vision and/or an enlarged nose or face.
When diagnosing a condition like nasal polyps, your ear, nose and throat doctor will use an endoscope in order to examine whether obstructions and inflammation exist. The endoscope is a narrow telescopic device with a camera on the tip. Since some polyps are not visible via the nostrils, this assessment method helps illuminate the dark recesses of the nasal cavity, and determine the extent and location of polyps. In addition to looking into the nostrils for polyps using an endoscope, an ENT specialist bases diagnosis on the patient’s detectable symptoms.
Other testing can involve magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which obtains images of the organs and tissues within the body. Also, a computerized tomography (CT) scan may be conducted which takes a series of multiple-angle, cross-sectional electromagnetic radiation (x-ray) images of one’s blood vessels, bones and soft tissues.
MRI and CT testing provide more information than regular x-rays, and show greater detail about the polyps in regard to their physical effects upon the patient’s sinuses, face and skull. These biopsies also help rule out the possibility of cancerous growths.
If allergies are a contributing factor to one’s chronic inflammation, allergy testing may be ordered – which entails pricking the skin and leaving droplets of allergy-inducing substances in order to observe signs of reaction.
There are numerous therapies for nasal polyps, from natural, holistic and noninvasive methods to pharmaceuticals and even surgery. If polyps are identified in the early stages, one can medically manage symptoms more easily. However, if your nasal polyps are bothersome and large in size, more extreme measures may be required. Below is an elaboration of each available treatment option.
It is possible via medications alone to completely resolve the issue of nasal polyps. Typically, the drugs prescribed by your doctor will not only eliminate the polyps, but also remedy chronic sinus infections and improve the drainage pathways of the nasal cavity. Antibiotics treat polyps caused by recurring sinus infections and inflammation. Antihistamines are used to treat allergy-causing polyps and antifungal medications are prescribed to treat fungal-related allergy
Nose Drops, Nasal Sprays, Topical Medications
To control symptoms, nasal sprays, drops and topical steroids may help deal with nasal polyp symptoms over the long term. Topical drops and sprays with corticosteroids help minimize inflammation of the sinuses and shrink or eliminate the reappearance of nasal polyps. However, first polyps must be removed or the nasal passageways must be opened in order to access the site of origin. Also, keep in mind that steroid drops may take a week or two to reap noticeable results.
For short-term treatment or when the use of nasal sprays proves unsuccessful, oral steroid tablets can reduce the size of most polyps. Prolonged use of these steroid tablets may cause side effects such as weight gain, altered sleep patterns, and behavioral changes. (Treatment may also involve a combination of the aforementioned options.)
Surgery can be the most successful treatment option if medical therapy proves ineffective at eliminating nasal polyps. This type of surgery is a simple outpatient procedure called a polypectomy which removes the polyps via the nostrils. It is performed using a microdebrider (small suctioning instrument) that cuts and extracts soft tissues. The patient can choose to remain awake under local anaesthetic or be put to sleep during surgery using general anaesthetic.
Another form of surgery is endoscopic sinus surgery, which requires general anaesthetic. This procedure entails the surgeon inserting an endoscope into the nasal cavities to remove polyps and correct inflammatory issues that prevent an easy flow of fluids from your sinuses.
Nasal Polyps ~ Buffalo, New York
Those in the Buffalo, New York area visit ENT physician Dr. Paul Young for proper diagnosis and treatment of their bothersome symptoms. As a top otolaryngologist, Dr. Young and his staff help restore your nasal function to optimal health!