What are nasal polyps?
Your nose serves as the gateway to your respiratory system. When that gateway gets inflamed due to a cold or the flu, allergens and irritants, a recurring sinus infection or drug sensitivity, you may develop nasal polyps.
These growths are not cancerous. Some can be so small most people don’t even know they have them. Symptoms do not tend to cause discomfort unless the polyps grow too large or there are too many of them.
Who has nasal polyps?
Nasal polyps affect up to 4% of the U.S. population and often arise in adults 40 years of age or older. They are twice as likely to affect men. People diagnosed with seasonal allergies, asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), cystic fibrosis and aspirin sensitivity are at greater risk for developing nasal polyps.
How are nasal polyps diagnosed?
Most people do not experience discomfort from nasal polyps until they are very large or there are a lot of them. Commons signs to watch for:
- Runny nose
- Constant stuffy nose
- Postnasal drip
- Pain in face or headaches
- Little or no sense of smell
- Loss of taste
- Pain in upper teeth
- Itching around the eyes
How are nasal polyps treated?
First, doctors will want to reduce inflammation in the nose. Nasal moisturizers such as nasal saline are effective in removing some of the irritants that cause or worsen inflammation in the nose. A nasal rinse may also help.
Your doctor may prescribe a topical nasal corticosteroid that not only can reduce inflammation but also help shrink the polyps. Prescription oral corticosteroids may also be a consideration. If you have chronic sinusitis along with nasal polyps, the injectable biologic dupilumab may be prescribed to help reduce size of the nasal polyps and nasal congestion.
Sometimes nasal polyps get so big, or there are so many of them, that they need to be removed surgically. The procedure would be performed using an endoscope with a magnifying lens or camera and tiny instruments that remove the polyps.
How are nasal polyps prevented?
- Confirm your allergy diagnosis – Undergo allergy testing so that you know what allergens (Pollen? Mold? Dust mites? Pet dander?) may be causing your nasal inflammation.
- Avoid triggers – Try to keep away from allergens and irritants that bother your nose, including cigarette smoke or dust.
- Manage your allergies – If your allergy symptoms are not controlled, talk to your doctor to develop or adjust your treatment plan.