Nasal Polyps: The Warning Signs and Treatments

When cells grow at an abnormal rate, it can cause tumors to develop. These tumors can be cancerous or non-cancerous, and they can appear anywhere in the body. And one area you might not realize can grow tumors is your nose. Nasal polyps are a kind of non-cancerous tumor that appears in the nasal passages. Though these polyps aren’t cancerous, there are serious health concerns associated with them that make it a concerning condition to develop.

Nasal polyps can appear as the result of certain health issues. So, it’s important to learn about your potential risk of getting nasal polyps. Not only will this allow you to take preventative measures, but it can also help you recognize the symptoms and avoid the severe side effects that can come with nasal polyps.

The Causes And Risk Factors

The nasal tissue exists to protect your nose from sinuses. When that tissue becomes irritated and is left untreated for a long period of time, the swollenness and excess fluids that drip can lead to polyps. That’s why people with sinus-related triggers are more susceptible to developing this condition.

Though anyone can develop nasal polyps, people with these conditions have an increased risk factor:

  • Asthma
  • Frequent sinus infections
  • Allergies
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Churg-Strauss syndrome

It’s also been found that people with allergies or sensitivity to certain anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin are at risk of developing nasal polyps. Since nasal polyps do not go away on their own, it’s important to get treated early before the polyps worsen and impact your ability to breathe.

The Symptoms Of Nasal Polyps

When you’re experiencing problems with your sinuses, your first instinct might be that it’s allergies or a cold. However, it could be something completely different – the symptoms for nasal polyps are similar, though the impact is much more severe.

Nasal polyps hang inside the nose and closely resemble teardrops or grapes. They’re typically soft and painless, and they grow where the eyes, nose and cheekbones meet in the upper sinuses. They are usually a yellow to grey color and closely resemble a cyst.

And when nasal polyps grow, they can cause symptoms that might make you think you’re falling ill. Some common symptoms of nasal polyps include:

  • Constant runny nose
  • Difficulty breathing through your nose or mouth
  • Excess music at the back of your throat
  • Stuffiness and congestion
  • Loss of smell
  • Facial discomfort or pressure

Smaller nasal polyps might not cause any symptoms. But if the polyps grow too big, it could impact your ability to breathe. The obstruction of air flow is the most concerning symptom for nasal polyps.

If you’re experiencing symptoms like those mentioned here for longer than 10 days, then it’s time to see a doctor.

Diagnosing And Treating Nasal Polyps

If you’re getting tested for nasal polyps, there are a few things your doctor might do. They will first discuss your family history and general health to see if you have any of the risk factors for this illness.

A doctor might be able to easily see the polyps simply with a lighted instrument. If they’re not visible, the doctor could also perform a nasal endoscopy, which uses a lens or camera to examine the area. If the polyps are deeper in the nasal cavity, a CT scan might be also done.

Your doctor will then devise a treatment plan to either shrink the polyps or remove them entirely. They might start with a nasal spray and pills containing corticosteroids. If the polyps are larger, this won’t be enough and you’ll likely require surgery.

There are two types of surgeries that are commonly performed: a polypectomy or an endoscopic sinus surgery. The polypectomy is less intensive and uses a small suction device to remove soft tissue. The endoscopic surgery involves using a camera to guide the doctor through the nasal cavity, removing the skin cells with attached tools.

In addition to removing the polyps, the doctor might also expand your nasal passage. It’s possible for nasal polyps to recur, so doctors often prescribe a nasal spray to prevent this from happening.

It’s Possible To Prevent Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps might not be completely avoidable depending on your health, but there are things you can do to reduce your odds of developing it.

Learning about your health can give you some control. If you’re asthmatic, prone to allergies or sinus infections, then it’s important to know how to treat it properly. This could be using anti-allergy medications, saline washes and nasal sprays. Keeping your nasal passages clean and preventing inflammation can reduce your risk of developing polyps.

If you’re having prolonged sinuses issues. then it’s important to see your doctor. Your symptoms might not be the result of nasal polyps, but there’s a chance that you might have something worse than a simple cold. Getting an early diagnosis can help you get treated more easily and prevent you from experiencing breathing trouble.

woman blowing her nose fizkes / Shutterstock