Nasal polyps are chronically inflamed sinus membranes which can protrude into and block the inside of the nasal cavity. They often develop in the area where the upper sinuses drain into the nasal passages. This is the area where the eyes, nose and cheekbones come together. Normally, nasal polyps are painless and you may not realize you have them until you see a doctor for another condition, such as chronic sinusitis. Nasal polyps can be small and painless and may require no treatment. However, in some cases, polyps can create additional problems such as blocked nasal breathing, recurring sinus infections, or loss of sense of smell that make it necessary to undergo nasal polyps treatment.
In this blog, the otolaryngologists at the Sinus Center of Atlanta describe the causes and symptoms of nasal polyps and explain your nasal polyps treatment options.
Causes of Nasal Polyps
In most cases, nasal polyps are formed as a result of chronic inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the sinuses. The specific causes of inflammation can vary from patient to patient.
The majority of polyps are caused by one or more of the following factors:
- Chronic sinusitis
- Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
- Aspirin sensitivity
- Certain immune disorders
- Cystic fibrosis
- Churg-Strauss syndrome
Symptoms of Nasal Polyps
There are a variety of symptoms that can indicate the presence of nasal polyps and signify a need for nasal polyps treatment. Typically, symptoms only appear in cases where the polyps are large in size.
Nasal polyps symptoms may include, but are not limited to:
- Nasal obstruction that makes breathing difficult
- Recurrent sinus infections
- Runny nose
- Postnasal drip
- Persistent stuffiness
- Reduced sense of smell or taste
- Mouth breathing
Nasal Polyps Treatment Options
Nasal polyps treatment comes in many forms. Initially, conservative options are pursued. You may be prescribed a corticosteroid nasal spray, antibiotics, oral steroids, or allergy medications. For patients who have smaller nasal polyps, treating mild symptoms with these conservative options may be all that is necessary. However, when enlarged polyps are producing other health issues, more involved treatment may be required to provide relief.
Nasal polyps treatment options offered at the Sinus Center of Atlanta include:
In cases where the polyps are limited, simply opening the blocked sinuses using specialized balloons (comparable to an angioplasty for heart patients) can help reverse the sinus problems. This can be performed under local anesthesia in the office.
Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
This surgery is used to help reduce any material inside the nasal cavity that is creating a problem with sinus drainage. Performed under general and/or local anesthesia, the procedure involves a small camera being inserted through your nostril. The camera is hooked up to a monitor that allows the doctor to get a close view of the structures within your nasal passages that are causing a blockage. This may include nasal polyps or bony protrusions. The surgeon may also utilize a computer image guidance system which confirms the location of the instruments in the sinuses in real time. The doctor then carefully shaves away any blocking material so that the sinus passage is opened and can drain freely. There is very little discomfort associated with this procedure and recovery time is much faster than with traditional sinus surgery. There is also less scarring because all the actual work is performed inside the nose and only the problem areas are targeted and treated.
A polypectomy may be performed as part of an endoscopic sinus surgery, wherein the doctor uses a small camera to see the polyps up close while performing the procedure. In limited cases, it may be performed in the office under local anesthesia, but often involves the use of general anesthesia. During the procedure, the doctor will use small, specialized instruments to carefully remove nasal polyps one by one. Since the entire procedure takes place inside the nasal cavity, there is little scarring and it involves a shorter recovery period than traditional sinus surgery. After proper healing has occurred, the sinuses are able to drain freely and breathing function is greatly improved.
Cases Where Multiple Treatments May Be Required
It is important to note that while the vast majority of patients who undergo a nasal polyp removal procedure report significant improvement in sinus function and symptoms of nasal obstruction several weeks after surgery, the success of the treatment will vary. This is because nasal polyps may be caused by an underlying condition or genetic disease that means polyps may reemerge. In other words, some causes of nasal polyps may make it necessary to undergo nasal polyps treatment again in the future.
Get Nasal Polyps Treatment in Atlanta
You owe yourself the chance to breathe freely, live without constant congestion and enjoy a full sense of both smell and taste. If nasal polyps are impacting your quality of life, get treatment to break free from the troubling symptoms. Get started by contacting the Sinus Center of Atlanta for an evaluation at one of our three practice locations in Buckhead, Fayetteville and Stockbridge. Your nose will thank you for it.