Nasal polyps are the result of chronic inflammation within the nasal cavity. They are benign growths and are not cancerous.
The polyps result in fleshy lumps within the sinuses and nasal cavity that may completely obstruct the nasal passage, giving rise to the sensation of nasal obstruction.
Other symptoms include :
If the polyps lead to obstruction of the sinuses, it may lead to sinusitis, which is an infection of the sinuses.
To help reduce the chances of developing nasal polyps or recurrences, it is important to avoid any irritants and allergens as much as possible, and to manage any allergies or asthma, if present.
The exact cause is not known but any condition that causes chronic inflammation in the nasal cavity or sinuses may increase the risk of nasal polyps.
There may an allergic component to the disease as some people with nasal polyposis test positive for an environmental allergen.
Asthma and aspirin sensitivity are other conditions that are often associated with nasal polyps.
A nasoendoscopic examination may be done to confirm the presence of polyps as well as to evaluate the extent of disease. Your doctor may also suggest allergy skin tests to find out if there are any allergies that may be contributing to the chronic inflammation.
A Computed Tomographic (CT) scan of the sinuses may be done to determine the extent of the polyps in some cases, as well as to identify any other possible obstructions within the nasal cavity. The scan is also useful if surgery is needed.
Anyone with nasal polyps should stop smoking. Early polyps may be treated with oral or nasal medications. Other medications may include antihistamines or antibiotics to treat a chronic or recurring infection.
Surgery may be necessary if medication does not shrink or eliminate the polyps, or if there is suspicion of cancerous growths. The type of surgery will depend on the extent as well as the size of the polyps.
Generally, surgery is in the form of endoscopic surgery. The surgery is usually performed under general anaesthesia and involves the use of a scope inserted into the nose to help the surgeon as he guides small instruments into the nostril and sinus cavities to remove the polyps, and clear any obstruction which may prevent the flow of secretions from the sinuses.
After surgery, your doctor may recommend the use of nasal steroids to prevent the recurrence of polyps as well as nasal washes to prevent the accumulation of dried mucus or crusting in the nose.