Nasal polyps are the most common tumors of the nasal cavity. Nasal polyposis can impair a person’s quality of life more than perennial allergic rhinitis. Nasal polyps are soft, jelly-like overgrowths of the lining of the sinuses. They look like grapes on the end of a stalk. Large polyps can bloc the nose and increase the risk of sinusitis. They may be yellowish, grey or pink in colour. They are common and are not cancerous. Nasal polyposis results from chronic inflammation of the nasal and sinus mucous membranes. Chronic inflammation causes a reactive hyperplasia of the intranasal mucosal membrane, which results in the formation of polyps.
Nasal polyps can vary significantly in size. There may be only one but sometimes several develop like a ‘small bunch of grapes’ on a stem. Polyps usually affect both nostrils. Nasal polyps can vary greatly in size. There may be only one but sometimes several grow like a ‘small bunch of grapes’ on a stem. The cause of the inflammation is certain conditions make nose inflammation and polyps more likely. These include: asthma, allergy to aspirin, cystic fibrosis, and some rare conditions of the nose. Nasal polyps can occur along with many other respiratory diseases, such as allergic rhinitis, chronic sinusitis, asthma, and aspirin allergy.
Nasal polyps also occur in a majority of people with Churg-Strauss syndrome, a rare disease that inflames the blood vessels (vasculitis). Nasal polyps occur in around 1 in 200 people. It appears that nasal polyps are more common in people with non-allergic rhinitis and non-allergic asthma, rather than allergic types of these conditions. Nasal polyps can affect anyone. However, most cases occur in people over the age of 40 years. They are four times more common in men than in women. In general, women are more likely to have nasal polyps than are men. Nasal polyps are uncommon in children.
Medications are the most common treatment for nasal polyps. Surgery may be needed to eliminate larger growths. Topical nasal steroid sprays, such as Flonase and Nasonex, can help decrease the size of nasal polyps and prevent polyps from growing back after surgery. Use allergy shots in an attempt to treat or stop nasal polyps from growing back after surgery. Intranasal corticosteroid sprays reduce the growth of small intranasal polyps are most effective in the postoperative period. Prevention is better than cure. Avoid over-the-counter saline sprays that contain additives, such as benzalkonium, which can actually inflame the mucous lining of your nose.