Nasal polyps are small, tear-shaped growths in the nasal passages or sinuses. They are not cancerous but can cause a lot of discomfort and make it difficult or even impossible to breathe through your nose.
It's not clear why nasal polyps develop in some people but not in others with the same conditions, such as chronic sinusitis (frequent sinus infections.) Though anyone can develop nasal polyps, they are most often seen in young and middle-aged adults.
Causes of nasal polyps
Nasal polyps are caused by chronic inflammation of the nasal passages or sinuses, usually as a result of conditions including the following:
Symptoms of nasal polyps
Symptoms of nasal polyps are similar to sinusitis. You may feel like you have a really bad cold that just won't go away. Symptoms last at least 12 weeks and may include one or more of the following:
- Stuffy nose
- Sinus congestion
- Facial pressure
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- Runny nose
- Postnasal drip
- Loss of taste or smell
- Frequent infections
How can I get help for nasal polyps?
Call your primary care doctor if you have been experiencing any of the above symptoms of nasal polyps for more than 10 days.
During your exam, your doctor may be able to see nasal polyps with a lighted instrument called an otoscope.
If your doctor suspects you have nasal polyps, they may refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist for diagnostic tests and expert treatment.
- Nasal polyps may be diagnosed via endoscopy, where a thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end is guided through your nose and into your nasal cavity and sinuses to give your doctor a close-up view.
- You may also need a CT scan or an MRI to find out more about your nasal polyps so that your specialist can recommend the best course of treatment.
Care for nasal polyps at Rush
ENT specialists at Rush will help you find relief from the symptoms of nasal polyps. Medication and surgery are both effective in treating nasal polyps.
Medications help relieve your symptoms, and shrink or even eliminate nasal polyps. Your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following medications:
- Nasal steroid sprays shrink or eliminate the polyps, open the nasal passages and clear up a runny nose.
- Corticosteroid pills or injections shrink the polyps and reduce swelling and congestion.
- Allergy medications such as antihistamines prevent new polyps from forming and reduce symptoms.
- Antibiotics treat sinusitis caused by bacterial infections.
If medication has not helped or your nasal polyps are large, your ENT doctor may recommend surgery. The goal of surgery is to remove all polyps and completely open your sinuses. This will enable better medical therapy and improve the effectiveness of topical medications, such as steroid irrigations.
ENT specialists are often able to perform endoscopic nasal polyp surgery:
- During this minimally invasive procedure, your doctor uses an endoscope, a thin tube guided by a miniscule camera with tiny instruments at the end to remove the polyps.
- You will most likely be able to return home the same day as your surgery to continue healing.
- Your doctor may also prescribe a nasal steroid spray or nasal steroid irrigation to help prevent polyps from returning.
Why choose Rush for care of nasal polyps
- Expertise you can trust: The Rush Sinus Program features highly skilled, fellowship-trained rhinology/sinus surgery specialists who are dedicated to treating patients with complex polyp disease.
- Advanced technology: Our ENT team uses the most advanced and innovative technology, including surgical devices, to optimize the results of your surgery for nasal polyps.
- Comprehensive treatment: Because of the interrelationship between your lungs, nose and sinuses, sinus problems often occur in conjunction with other airway disorders. Allergists, pulmonologists, otolaryngologists and gastroenterologists work together to diagnose your specific combination of issues and create a personalized treatment plan.