Nasal polyps are polypoidal masses arising mainly from the mucous membranes of the nose and paranasal sinuses. They are overgrowths of the mucosa that frequently accompany allergic rhinitis. They are freely movable and non tender.
Nasal polyps are abnormal tissue growths that grow inside the nasal passages and sinuses. Sinuses are small, air-filled cavities found within the bones of the face. You have sinuses on either side of your nose and behind your cheekbones, eyes and forehead. Nasal polyps vary in size. They can be yellow, grey or pink in colour. Each polyp is teardrop-shaped, and they look like grapes on a stem when fully grown. Large nasal polyps can block nasal passages and cause symptoms such as a blocked or runny nose and loss of smell and taste.
The symptoms of polyps can include:
Blocked nose – which may cause breathing difficulties
Mucus that drips from the back of nose down the throat – known as post-nasal drip
Reduced sense of smell or taste – in severe cases, one may lose sense of smell or taste completely
Nasal polyps are thought to occur as a result of inflammation in the lining (mucus membrane) of the nasal cavities and sinuses. While the exact cause of nasal polyps is not known.
Various risk factors involved:
Allergic rhinitis – Where cold-like symptoms develop as a result of an allergic reaction.
Age- Nasal polyps are commonly seen in adults aged about 40 years
Cystic fibrosis – Where the lungs and digestive system become clogged with a sticky fluid.
Churg-Strauss syndrome – A rare condition that causes the blood vessels to become inflamed.
Nasal polyps are mostly diagnosed through symptoms:
Nasal polyps can also be identified using a procedure called an endoscopy to examine nasal passages.
A computerized tomography (CT) scan of the sinuses and nasal passages can also be carried out.
Cystic fibrosis: If the patient is a young child the doctor may order a cystic fibrosis test. This test is used to measures the amount of sodium and chloride in the child’s sweat. A series of X-rays helps in giving a more detailed image of the sinuses and nasal passages. Polyps will show up as opaque (not transparent) areas in the sinuses and the walls of nasal passageways.
Nasal polyps are generally treated through steroid nasal spray and medications.
Antibiotics should only be taken if there is an associated bacterial sinus infection.
Surgery can also be performed, in case of larger polyps.
Polypectomy – This is the most common surgical procedure for the removal of polyps.
Endoscopic sinus surgery – This procedure is used if the polyps are particularly large, in clusters, or are seriously blocking the sinuses.