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Nasal Polyps


Chronic conditions, such as allergies or sinus infections, can cause more than just a runny nose.  Nasal polyps are small growths that form in the nasal passageways following long-term irritation.  The growths are not cancerous, but they can make it difficult to breathe and smell.  Symptoms may be relieved with medications.  Surgical removal may be used in severe cases; however, polyps tend to recur. 


Nasal polyps form in the lining of the nasal passages inside of the nose or sinuses.  Nasal polyps are fluid-filled soft growths that can vary in size. They may occur alone or in groups that look like clusters of grapes.


Nasal polyps result from inflammation after an ongoing infection or irritation, such as sinus infections or allergies.  Nasal polyps are common in people with cystic fibrosis.  In some cases, the cause is unknown.


Nasal polyps can make it difficult for you to breathe through your nose.  You may breathe through your mouth instead.  Your voice may sound different or congested because of nasal blockage.  You may have a runny nose.  Your sense of smell may diminish.


Your doctor can easily diagnose nasal polyps by reviewing your symptoms and examining your nose.  A nasal speculum allows the doctor to gently spread your nostril open before using light to check for polyps. 


In some cases, nasal polyps are treated with steroid medications, allergy medications, or antifungal medications.  If symptoms are severe, polyps may be removed surgically.  Polypectomy and functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) are common surgeries for nasal polyps.

Polypectomy is an outpatient procedure that is used to remove small or single polyps.  FESS is used to remove multiple polyps or those located near the sinuses.  FESS uses an endoscope to guide the surgery.  An endoscope is a thin lighted tube with a camera that is inserted through the nostril.  Thin surgical instruments are used and the endoscope guides the surgeon. Symptoms typically improve following surgery; however, polyps that are caused by a chronic condition tend to come back.

Am I at Risk

Risk factors for nasal polyps:
_____ Age over 40
_____ Hay fever or allergies
_____ Cystic fibrosis
_____ Sinus infections and asthma
_____  Aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) sensitivity