Treating Sinus Nasal Polyps


Sinus nasal polyps are growths that result from inflamed mucus membranes in the sinuses and nasal passages. They can extend to the opening of the nostrils, or even down to the throat area. These growths can block the nasal passages.

Nasal polyps are often related to other chronic diseases and tend to last for long periods of time. They can even grow back after medical treatments or surgical removal.

If you have massive nasal polyposis symptoms, it would include increasing nasal congestion, hyposmia to anosmia, changes in sense of taste, and persistent postnasal drainage. Headaches and facial pain and discomfort are not uncommon and are found in the periorbital and maxillary regions. On occasion, a completely obstructing nasal polyposis presents with symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.

Solitary polyps frequently present with only symptoms of nasal obstruction, which may change with a shift in position. For example, while lying supine, the polyp may swing posteriorly, opening up the nasal cavity. In an upright position, the polyp has a more obstructive effect.

Whether one or more polyps are present, you may have symptoms of acute, recurrent, or chronic rhinosinusitis if the polyps obstruct the sinus ostia.

Causes of sinus nasal polyps include:

  • Allergy
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Chronic inflammation of indeterminate etiology

Nasal polyps may be treated by both surgical and medical therapies. In severe cases, sinus surgery is often required to remove the nasal polyps and any accompanying sinus infection. However, since nasal polyps tend to grow back in at least one-third of patients, the overuse of surgery should be avoided.

Treatments for sinus nasal polyps that are available are:

  • Nasal steroid sprays and drops or topical nasal steroid sprays. These sprays or drops can help reduce the size of nasal polyps and prevent polyps from growing back after surgery. Some physicians use nasal steroid drops, rather than sprays, in order to better penetrate the nasal passages and reach the nasal polyps.
  • Oral corticosteroids can quickly shrink the size of nasal polyps and are helpful in people with severe symptoms. After a short course of corticosteroids, however, topical nasal steroid sprays are able to control symptoms better and prevent the polyps from growing larger. In some cases, such as when fungal sinusitis is the cause of nasal polyps, low-dose oral corticosteroids may be required for weeks to months after surgery in order to prevent polyps from growing back.
  • Oral antileukotriene medications are theoretically beneficial in people with nasal polyps, especially those with aspirin allergy. People with aspirin allergy are known to have high levels of leukotrienes, so medications that block these chemicals should help to reduce symptoms of chronic sinus disease and polyp formation.
  • Nasal saline irrigation can be especially helpful in people with nasal polyps and chronic sinus infections. This is especially true if you have had sinus surgery, as the saline can rinse out the sinuses and not just the nasal passages.
  • Many allergists may use allergy shots in an attempt to treat or prevent nasal polyps from growing back after surgery. Allergy shots may also prove to be helpful in those with nasal polyps and evidence of significant allergic triggers.

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