For some people, nasal congestion is not just an issue during the spring, summer, or other specific times of the year. Many experience annoying symptoms throughout the year with no periods of relief. These can include congestion, painful sinus pressure, frequent drainage of thick mucus, and a reduction or loss of taste and sense of smell.
When these types of symptoms linger for more than eight weeks, the condition is referred to as chronic sinusitis (sinus infection). It can be caused by a variety of issues, including nasal polyps.
What are nasal polyps?
These soft growths can form in the lining of your nasal passages or sinuses when they’re inflamed or swollen for long periods of time and produce a lot of fluid.
Unlike some other types of polyps found in other areas of the body, they’re non-cancerous and haven’t been linked to an increased chance of developing cancer. These painless masses are teardrop-shaped in appearance and can range from small to large in size. When they’re small, they typically require no treatment and you may not even know you have them, but the larger the polyp, the more likely it is to cause problems in the nose.
When they grow large or you have multiple polyps, they can fill 75% or more of your nasal cavity, causing your nose to feel obstructed and blocking normal sinus drainage. If polyps fill the entire nasal cavity, you’ll be quite miserable, since you’ll be unable to breathe through your nose and will instead have to breathe through your mouth. This may also increase nighttime snoring.
What are the symptoms of nasal polyps?
Larger polyps can cause symptoms that include:
- Persistent nasal congestion
- Postnasal drip (being able to feel mucus dripping down the back of your throat)
- Decreased or absent sense of smell
- Facial pain or headache
- Pain in the upper teeth
- Pressure in your forehead or face
- Itching around the eyes
- Chronic infections
Is there a connection between nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis?
When you have an infection or allergic reaction, the lining of your nose becomes inflamed, swollen, and may produce extra or abnormal fluid. This excess fluid can sometimes form polyps, which most often arise in the area where the sinuses drain into the nasal cavity. As they get larger, filling 75% to 90% of the nasal cavity, people begin to be greatly bothered by the feeling of nasal obstruction, and this often motivates them to seek medical care.
Chronic sinusitis can occur with or without nasal polyps, but if they’re large or numerous and are causing ongoing, bothersome symptoms, they may need to be treated.
What are the treatments for nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis?
Medications are often the first course of treatment for nasal polyps and their accompanying symptoms. These include corticosteroid sprays (to help shrink or slow their growth), oral steroids, allergy medication, and antibiotics.
When medications aren’t effective enough, surgery may be recommended. Polypectomy (surgical removal of the polyps) or endoscopic sinus surgery (the use of a thin rod quipped with a light and tiny camera, which allows the surgeon to safely and effectively remove nasal polyps) are two types of surgeries that are offered.
Where can I find treatment for my nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis in the Atlanta area?
The Sinus Center of Atlanta is dedicated to the treatment of sinus and nasal conditions and allergies. Our physicians are among Atlanta’s finest board-certified otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat specialists) with a special interest in the treatment and management of sinusitis, nasal obstructions, allergic rhinitis, and other related conditions.
After we complete an accurate diagnosis of your condition and its causes, we offer personalized, customized treatment options to help alleviate your symptoms. These include medications and the latest minimally invasive surgeries.
If you’re experiencing troubling symptoms as a result of nasal polyps and chronic sinusitis, contact us for an appointment today!