Q: Adult patients with sinusitis often develop nasal polyps that worsen stuffiness and postnasal drip. What are ways to prevent nasal polyps?

Stanley Fineman, MD: Nasal polyps are small growths or tumors in the nose, but they’re not cancerous. They are caused by inflammation in the lining of the nose and are usually triggered by allergies and other irritants.

Here are some recommendations for patients with nasal inflammation to help reduce the risk of developing polyps:

  1. Identify the allergen(s)– through allergy skin testing – and consider allergen immunotherapy to help reduce allergen sensitivity.
  2. Use nasal moisturizers such as nasal saline. Nasal saline is a very effective way of helping to reduce some of the irritants that affect inflammation in the nose.
  3. Use topical nasal corticosteroids to help reduce nasal inflammation. They may even help reduce the size of the polyps.

While nasal corticosteroids can help reduce growth of the polyps, in some cases they may get so big they have to be removed surgically.

Talk with your doctor if you think nasal polyps are worsening stuffiness or postnasal drip.

Stanley Fineman, MD, FACAAI, is a board-certified allergist and immunologist with Atlanta Allergy and Asthma. He is Past President of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

Have a medical question? Email editor@allergyasthmanetwork.org or write to Ask the Allergist, Allergy & Asthma Network, 8229 Boone Blvd., Suite 260, Vienna, VA 22182.

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