5 Things to Know about Nasal PolypsNovember 17, 2021
Dr. Kenneth Andrews treats the whole spectrum of issues affecting the ears, nose, throat, head, and neck with a special interest in allergy and sino-nasal conditions.
Below he shares important information about nasal polyps, causes, and treatment options.
What are nasal polyps and how do they form?
Nasal polyps are soft, painless, noncancerous growths lining the nose or sinuses.
Nasal polyps typically develop secondary to inflammation that affects the respiratory tissue lining the nasal cavities. This inflammation can develop secondary to allergic or non-allergic causes such as asthma, infection, cystic fibrosis, aspirin hypersensitivity, or other inflammatory conditions. They are typically teardrop shapes and look like grapes when they are fully grown. They can be a variety of colors, such as grey, pink, and yellow.
Polyps develop because the mucous membranes lining the nose or sinuses change. The membranes become inflamed for a long time, or become inflamed over and over again.
If you have polyps, you may be unaware of them until they grow in size. They can cause a variety of problems when fully developed, including nasal obstruction, loss of smell, persistent nasal discharge, facial pressure, and chronic sinusitis. Over time, if left untreated, they can also cause destruction of the bone inside the nasal cavities. It is essential to consult a doctor if you have any symptoms.
They happen most often in people with asthma, allergies, repeat infections, or chronic inflammation in the nasal passages.
Are nasal polyps ever a sign of a more serious medical condition?
Nasal polyps are frequently seen in patients with cystic fibrosis which is a serious, though relatively rare, condition. While many patients who develop nasal polyps have underlying allergies, the majority of people with nasal polyps are non-allergic.
What are treatment options for nasal polyps? Is there a cure?
The good news is that there are many different treatment options. An ENT specialist can recommend the optimal treatment which may include:
- Steroid sprays to shrink polyps and improve symptoms
- Oral steroids which are pills that can be swallowed
- Certain antibiotics are also frequently given to further reduce inflammation in the sinuses, especially if there is a concern for an underlying chronic infection that could be contributing to their development
- Injections under the skin to deliver a medicine called dupilumab
- Outpatient surgery to place a tiny steroid-eluting stent that slowly dissolves away
- Outpatient endoscopic surgery to remove polyps when other treatments don’t work
- While there are many methods for treating nasal polyps, there is a high rate of recurrence, so regular follow up with your doctor is important
Is there anything that someone can do at home to prevent nasal polyps?
Maintaining good sino-nasal health is the best method for prevention. This includes avoiding irritants such as tobacco, smoke, or other irritants and treating allergy symptoms as needed.
Can polyps be cancerous?
Nasal polyps are not known to be premalignant. However, they may be confused with papillomas, including inverting papillomas, which are known to be precursors of malignant lesions. In addition, polyps can sometimes arise from inflammation caused by malignant or premalignant nasal lesions. These polyps can obstruct visualization of the more concerning lesions and sometimes cause delay in diagnosis. That is why it is important to see an ENT expert if you are suffering with any issues in the nasal cavity.
It is important to consult with an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist who can diagnose your condition and recommend the best treatment plan. Please call (860) 224-2631 to schedule a visit with one of our ENT specialists in New Britain, Southington, or Glastonbury.