Suffering With Sniffles? What You Should Know About Nasal Polyps

If you have persistent nasal discomfort, including nasal congestion and sinus pressure, you should talk with an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor about the possibility of nasal polyps. If you're not familiar with the condition, they are noncancerous growths inside the nasal cavity that can obstruct your sinuses. Sometimes, nasal polyps remain very small and present no symptoms at all, but larger polyps can lead to sinus infections and discomfort. Here's a look at what you should know about the symptoms and treatments for nasal polyps so that you know when to call your doctor for treatment. Read more, below. 

What Are the Symptoms of Nasal Polyps?

Some of the symptoms of nasal polyps include persistent congestion in your nasal cavities, an uncomfortable postnasal drip and frequent sneezing. You may also find that you have frequent facial pain in the area of your sinuses and a poor sense of smell and taste. Sometimes, the presence of nasal polyps also leads to chronic sinus infections and swollen, itchy eyes. Some patients with nasal polyps also suffer from symptoms of asthma, including wheezing and a sensitivity to dust and chemicals.

What Are Your Treatment Options?

If you suspect that your sinus discomfort is caused by the presence of nasal polyps, you'll want to reach out to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor who can conduct an endoscopy to determine if there's a problem. The endoscopy involves putting a small endoscope with a camera or magnifying lens attached to the end into your nose. This gives him or her a clear view of the nasal cavity. In some instances, you may also need to undergo a biopsy to rule out the possibility that the polyps are not actually cancerous tumors.

Spray Treatments

The first thing your doctor will likely prescribe is a nasal corticosteroid. It's a spray application that's designed to shrink the polyps. In the case of smaller polyps, it may actually eliminate them. These sprays are sometimes prescribed in conjunction with an oral corticosteroid to bolster the effect of the spray.

Corticosteroid sprays may be a long-term prescription if your polyps are the result of allergies or other outside issues. You'll need to address the underlying cause of the problem as well, including treating your allergies or addressing sinus infections that are causing the polyps to grow in order to have a long-term effect.

In most cases, antihistamines are not effective against polyp growth, but your doctor may still prescribe them to keep your allergy symptoms at bay. Additionally, you may be prescribed an antibiotic to address the presence of any infections before you start a steroid treatment.

Surgical Treatment Options

When sprays are not sufficient to keep the polyps from returning, your doctor may recommend surgery. In those cases, you'll have to discuss the two primary types of nasal surgery to determine which is best. In most cases, endoscopic surgery is the preferred method, but traditional sinus surgery may be required.

Endoscopic Surgery

Endoscopic surgery is usually used when there's small amounts of tissue blocking the cavity. When the polyps are small and easily accessible, your doctor will typically recommend this approach. It's done in the same methods as the diagnosis, using the same small endoscope. It makes it easier for him or her to see the polyps and remove them.

Traditional Surgery

Sometimes, nasal polyps are more severe than an endoscopic procedure can address. If they are large and obstructive, your Ear, Nose and Throat doctor may recommend laser surgery to eliminate them and help you to breathe more freely. This is more obtrusive than an endoscopic treatment, but it is often more effective when you're struggling with recurring polyp growth.

Nasal polyps can be a mild nuisance or a significant discomfort, depending on their severity. If your doctor has recommended that you seek treatment for your polyps, understanding what they are and how to deal with them can help you approach the situation with a thorough comprehension of what's ahead. Talk to your doctor today about the best options for your situation.