Nasal Polyps: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Nasal polyps are soft, fleshy lumps that grow inside your nose and these are non-cancerous protrudes. They can be yellowish, gray or pink in color and can vary widely in size. There may be only one, but sometimes several growths like a little bunch of grapes on a stem.
Nasal polyps can grow anywhere in the membrane of the nose or sinuses. They often spread where the sinuses open into the nasal cavity. Small polyps may not be a problem. Large polyps can block the sinuses or nasal airways leading to further complications and life threatening situations.
Types of Nasal Polyps
There are two types of nasal polyps-
Ethmoidal polyps are the most common type which develop from the ethmoidal sinuses and are located between the nose and eyes.
Antrochoanal polyps are less common. These develop in the maxillary sinuses, which are above the teeth and under the cheeks and nose.
Symptoms of Nasal Polyps
Nasal polyps are often soft and painless. You might have them and not even notice until they start growing and blocking your nasal passages. Following symptoms appear as these polyps start growing-
- Chronic nasal congestion
- Reduced sense of smell
- Sleep apnea
- Severe headache
- Facial pain
- Itching around the eyes
- Postnasal drip
Causes of Nasal Polyps
People who have following conditions are more likely to develop nasal polyps-
- Chronic Sinus Infections
- Allergic Rhinitis
- Sensitivity to certain medicines like Ibuprofen and Aspirin
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Churg-Strauss Syndrome (a disorder that causes inflammation in the blood vessels)
How to prevent Nasal Polyps?
Reducing the risk of nasal polyps is especially important if you have asthma or allergies. Follow your treatment plan and talk to your doctor if that doesn't help control your symptoms. Anyone can take these simple steps to reduce the risk-
- Stay away from nasal irritants such as dust, cigarette smoke, and chemical fumes.
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Avoid foods or drinks that can irritate your sinuses, such as certain dairy products and alcoholic beverages.
- Rinse your nasal passages regularly with an over-the-counter saline spray.
Diagnosis for Nasal Polyps
Diagnostic tests include-
Nasal Endoscopy-A narrow tube with a magnifying lens or tiny camera (nasal endoscope) allows your doctor to carefully examine your nostrils and sinuses.
Scanning- A computed tomography (CT) scan can help your doctor determine the size and location of polyps in the deeper areas of the sinuses and assess the extent of swelling and inflammation.
Blood test-Your doctor can test your blood for low levels of vitamin D, which are linked to nasal polyps.
Allergy tests-Your doctor may suggest a skin test to determine if allergies are contributing to chronic inflammation. In a skin prick test, small drops of an allergy causing agents (allergens) are injected into the skin of the forearm or upper back. Your doctor or nurse will then examine your skin for signs of an allergic reaction.
Treatment for Nasal Polyps
Anyone suffering from nasal polyps should consult a doctor and go for treatment with medicines before considering surgery -
Steroid nose drops-
- Steroid nose drops are the most recommended treatment for nasal polyps.
- Nose drops contain steroid medications which reduce inflammation in the nose. Gradually, nasal congestion reduces and the polyps start to shrink. It may take a week or two for the nose drops to make a noticeable difference in your symptoms. You may be recommended to use it for at least 4-6 weeks.
- Betamethasone or fluticasone are two steroid nasal drops that are only available by prescription.
A course of steroid tablets (prednisolone) for about a week is sometimes prescribed to reduce inflammation in the nose. This often works very well to shrink polyps. This treatment is a short-term solution because long-term use of steroid tablets can have significant side effects. It should be used in combination with topical steroid drops or nasal sprays.
Surgery may be recommended if the polyp is large or if steroid nose drops or tablets don't work.
Polypectomy-In polypectomy, polyps are removed surgically. This can be done through the nostrils or under general anesthesia. The type of anesthesia may depend on the number and size of the polyps, where they are located and how suitable you are for surgery.
Endoscopic sinus surgery-This type of surgery is performed under general anesthesia. This may be done if the polyps are very large and numerous or if they severely block your sinuses. Endoscopy allows the surgeon to view the sinuses with a camera and perform operations in places that are difficult to reach with ordinary surgical instruments.
Home Remedies to treat Nose Polyps
- Capsaicin is a compound found in chili peppers. Cayenne pepper contains high concentrations of capsaicin. These compounds are known to reduce pain and discomfort. It helps clear the sinuses and when used in the nasal cavity, it helps reduce the size of nasal polyps.
For this-Use nasal sprays containing capsaicin are commercially available that can help relieve the symptoms of nasal polyps.
- Turmeric has strong anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties (the ability to stop or slow down the growth of pathogenic microorganisms).
- It helps to treat symptoms of nasal polyps that cause discomfort such as itching and nasal congestion.
For this-Take a spoonful of turmeric powder, mix it in a glass of warm milk and drink it once or twice a day.
Saline nasal irrigation-
- Rinsing your sinuses with sterile saline solution helps relieve symptoms of nasal polyps.
- You can use the neti pot, specially designed nasal irrigation pot, to flush your nasal cavities and sinuses. It helps clean the dust and other irritants from the nasal cavity.
For this- Use warm water to fill your neti pot and mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt in it. Tilt your head and inhale the solution through one nostril and exhale from the other, repeating the same thing from the other side. You can blow your nostrils afterwards to get the solution out.
Tea tree oil-
- Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation and swelling of the sinuses.
- It is easily available in the market. This oil can cause allergies in some, so make sure you do a patch test before applying it to the nostrils.
- Inhaling steam can help reduce swelling in the airways and also helps in thinning the mucus.
For this-You can boil water in a bowl and gently place your face on it. Cover your head with a towel to take steam properly.
When to see a doctor?
Consult your doctor if the symptoms of nasal polyps last more than 10 days.