Nasal polyps are benign inflammatory growths that arise from the mucous membranes lining the nose and sinuses. Although polyps are benign (non-cancerous), they can lead to multiple problems. Because polyps occupy space in the nose/sinuses, one of the most common complaints from patients with nasal polyps is stuffiness. Other complaints include loss of sense of smell, nasal discharge, postnasal drip, sinus pressure/headache, and dry mouth from chronic mouth breathing. The diagnosis of nasal polyps made by physical examination as well as x-ray (CT scan).
It is not known exactly what causes nasal polyps, but they are felt to be the end result of chronic inflammation in the nose or sinuses. This inflammation can be secondary to infection from a virus, bacteria, or fungus. Patients with environmental allergies, asthma, and some autoimmune diseases have also been observed to have increased risk for the development of nasal polyps.
Nasal polyps tend to be a chronic and recurring problem. The treatment of nasal polyps usually involves a combination of medications, allergy management, and endoscopic sinus surgery to remove the bulky polyps. Commonly used medications include topical and oral steroids, nasal antihistamine sprays, leukotriene antagonists, and saline rinses.
If allergies are thought to play a role, then allergy management with oral antihistamines and allergy desensitization (allergy shots or sublingual therapy) may be appropriate. If the diagnosis of nasal polyps is made, your Otalaryngologist (Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist) can discuss what treatment would be best suited to your needs.