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What Are Nasal Polyps? How Is It Diagnosed And Treated?

A patient's stuffy nose leads to difficulty breathing through the nose, choked voice, sense of smell is severely reduced. Therefore, early diagnosis of nasal polyps is extremely important to help doctors develop an effective treatment regimen for controlling the disease and limiting the risk of serious complications that affect a patient’s health status.

What Are Nasal Polyps?

Nasal polyps are painless soft growths inside your nose, being benign (noncancerous) growths on the lining of your nasal passages or sinuses. They hang down like teardrops or grapes.

They result from chronic inflammation and are associated with asthma, recurring infection, allergies, drug sensitivity, or certain immune disorders. They're not usually serious, but they can keep growing and block your nose if not treated.

Histologically, nasal polyps are pale gray, edematous, sometimes also fibrous, stalked protrusions that develop in the middle nasal passage, the ethmoid bone, and the middle nasal turbinate. For reasons as yet unknown, the lower nasal turbinate does not tend to form polyps. Nasal polyps can be divided into at least four groups according to histological criteria.

Symptoms of polyps include nasal congestion, sinusitis, loss of smell, thick nasal discharge, facial pressure, nasal speech, and mouth breathing. Recurrent sinusitis can result from polyps. Long-term, nasal polyps can cause the destruction of the nasal bones and widening of the nose.

What Causes Nasal Polyps?

Researchers are still learning about the causes of nasal polyps. Underlying inflammation of your tissue plays some sort of role. Nasal polyps are more common in people with these health conditions:

  • Asthma
  • Aspirin sensitivity
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)

Certain genes may also help lead to the development of nasal polyps. This is especially true of genes that play a role in the immune system and inflammatory response. You may be more likely to have nasal polyps if other members of your family have had them.

What Are The Symptoms of Nasal Polyps?

If you have nasal polyps, you may feel like you have a cold for months or longer. Some of your symptoms may be due to nasal polyps. Others may result from the chronic rhinosinusitis that caused your polyps.

The most common symptoms of nasal polyps include:

  • Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
  • Runny nose
  • Facial sinus fullness (but usually not pain)
  • Postnasal drip
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Feeling blocked in your nose and having to breathe through your mouth

Unless you also have an infection, you shouldn’t have symptoms such as fever or yellowish or greenish drainage from the nose. Complications from nasal polyps may cause additional symptoms.

The symptoms of nasal polyps may seem like other health conditions or problems. Always see your healthcare provider for more information.

How Are Nasal Polyps Diagnosed?

Diagnosis begins with a complete health history and physical exam. Your healthcare provider will examine your nose. He or she may be able to see your polyps with a simple lighted tool.

Your provider might need more information about your sinuses and nasal cavity. He or she might try to diagnose the specific trigger of your polyps, such as certain allergies. You might need tests such as:

  • Nasal endoscopy: Your provider places a long, flexible tube into your nose. The tube has a light on the end. This gives a detailed view of your inner nose and your sinuses.
  • CT scan: This is done if the diagnosis isn’t clear. X-rays pass through your nose and create images that are analyzed by a computer.
  • MRI: This is done if more imaging is needed. An MRI machine uses a magnetic field to make an image of structures inside your body.
  • Allergy testing: This is done to diagnose allergies.
  • Additional tests: Other tests may be done to diagnose the area and airflow of the nasal cavity.
  • Polyp biopsy: This is often only done if needed to rule out cancerous growth. Your provider removes your polyp or takes a sample. It is tested to see if it is cancer.

A healthcare provider who is a general practitioner might first diagnose you. Many people with nasal polyps will eventually need to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist (otolaryngologist).

As soon as there are signs of nasal polyps, especially when there is suffocation, prolonged runny nose, impaired olfaction, patients need to go to the hospital to be diagnosed and treated early.

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The site cannot and does not contain medical advice. The medical information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals.