Nasal Polyps: Top 5 Signs to Seek Treatment
Treatment of nasal polyps is not always necessary. Those who develop a small nasal polyps and do not notice any adverse symptoms generally need only monitoring of the polyps. However, for others, nasal polyps can cause symptoms that decrease quality of life in a dramatic way. Some of these symptoms can overlap with other condtions such as sinusitis, a deviated septum, and acid reflux so its important to only use them as a general guide. Patients report having experienced the following conditions as a result of chronic sinus inflammation and nasal polyps:
- Decreased Sense of Smell or Taste– Polyps are thought to be caused by inflammation inside the sinuses and nasal tissue. Along with this tissue inflammation, the huge size of polyps can prevent odor particles from getting to the smell receptors in the top of the nose. Taste gets a lot of its subtleties from smell and is affected as well.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) often causes snoring.
- Nasal Obstruction– Nasal polyps can grow to a large size. As they grow, they will reduce the area inside the nose where air is able to pass.
- Sinus infections- Nasal polyps can affect the severity and frequency of sinus infections and sometimes develop into chronic sinusitis.
- Congestion and Facial Pain- Blocking of the nose can make you feel very stuffy. In addition, although the polyps themselves have no nerve endings, they can press on sensitive nasal mucosa and cause facial pain and headaches.
- A Runny Nose and Post-Nasal Drip– You may experience a clear nasal discharge or constant dripping down the back of the throat.
Serious Nasal Polyp Complications
Nasal polyps can require the need for emergency care. You should seek emergency care should you have changes in vision or sudden swelling around your eyes, a headache with fever and inability to tilt your head forward, severe difficulty breathing, or a sudden change in mental status. These are extremely rare but very serious complications.
Preparing for Nasal Polyp Treatment
If you are suffering from any nasal polyp symptom or suspect you may have chronic sinusitis, make an appointment with your primary care physician or depending on your insurance, you could go directly to an ENT specialist.
The ENT specialist will need to review your background. Come prepared with a detailed medical history including past surgeries as well as a list of your medical conditions and allergies to medication. Be sure to go over your symptoms a few times before seeing your doctor, to make sure you give your doctor the most informed and detailed description.
You will also need to report the types of medications you frequently take. This includes both over-the-counter and prescribed medications, plus vitamins and other health supplements.
Common Nasal Polyp Treatment Plans
Your ENT doctor will likely devise both a short-term and long-term plan in order to clear up your nasal polyps and decrease inflammation of nasal tissues. Surgery is sometimes needed to remove the polyps to allow medication to reach all areas inside your nose.
Nasal Polyp Treatment Plan No. 1: Nasal Corticosteroids
You doctor may prescribe various medications that can shrink your nasal polyps or make them disappear. One popular treatment is nasal corticosteroids. This medication comes in the form of a nasal spray, and works to decrease swelling in your nasal cavities. The most frequently-prescribed nasal corticosteroids include fluticasone (found in Flonase), mometasone (found in Nasonex), budesonide, flunisolide and triamcinolone.
Nasal corticosteroids are normally the first treatment method that your doctor will suggest to fight nasal polyps.
Nasal Polyp Treatment Plan No. 2: Liquid or Tablet Corticosteroids
If your doctor prescribes a nasal corticosteroid and you do not experience any improvement in your symptoms, you may be given an oral corticosteroid. Some people are very responsive and the polyps may shrink enough to give symptomatic relief or allow other medications to get into the nose. Oral corticosteroids are often associated with dangerous side effects, so your doctor will likely recommend that you take them for only a short period. If there are no visible signs of reduction in the polyp after the oral corticosteroid, then your doctor may suggest a surgical biopsy or removal of the polyps. An asthma medication, called budesonide, is a liquid that is used off-label and can be dripped into the nose or used in a saline rinse.
Nasal Polyp Treatment Plan No. 3: Allergy Testing and Allergen Avoidance
Learning what you are allergic to and avoiding the causes of swelling in your nose is important. An allergy test with removal or limitation of things you are allergic to can help. A HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter is never a bad idea. You may require allergy shots or antihistamines as well.
Nasal Polyp Treatment Plan No. 3: Surgery
Surgery is seen as a last resort method to remove nasal polyps after other treatments have failed. Specific details about how the surgery is performed depends upon the size, location and number of nasal polyps. Surgery also increases the access inside the nose to allow for medication to get to the sinus tissue. There are two main types of nasal polyp surgery:
· Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
– This procedure allows your doctor to remove the diseased tissue that make up the polyps and to reestablish more normal drainage patterns inside the nose. With you asleep, the surgeon inserts an endoscope into the nostril to reach the nasal cavities and through the use of small surgical instruments removes the polyps. He or she might also create a wider opening between the sinuses and nasal passages to increase air circulation and sinus drainage. This procedure is also typically performed on an outpatient basis. Balloon sinus surgery is not appropriate for nasal polyps.
Endoscopic surgery allows the removal of nasal polyps via micro-surgical instruments.
· Traditional Sinus Surgery
– Used mainly for cancer surgery, and serious infections, this procedure is mainly otherwise historical in nature. Skin incisions are made for direct access to the inside of the nose. This is rarely if ever used for benign nasal polyps.
· Miracle Nasal Polyp Cures
– Currently unavailable. Although there has been a blitz of advertising recently, there is no evidence that any of the 4 day miracle cures work. One site heavily promotes a doctor coming up with the cure and we could find no evidence that he exists. The press releases and testimonials seemed to have a lot of gibberish, possibly computer or foreign generated. If there were a miracle cure, we would put it on the top of this article and move on to other areas of nasal treatment.
To learn more about nasal polyps, including symptoms, causes and what to expect during surgery, read our in-depth nasal polyp article here.