Nasal polyps are non-cancerous growths in the inner lining of the nose or sinuses. Visit a doctor if you have a cold that does not go away and makes breathing difficult. This may be due to the presence of polyps. Nasal polyps are small grape like growths that develop due to chronic swelling of the nasal mucosa. They occur in people above forty years, and especially in women. Children with a history of asthma, hay fever, sinus infections, and cystic fibrosis are prone to the being affected with nasal polyps.
Symptoms of nasal polyps
- Several polyps occurring together can hamper breathing and this leads to breathing through the mouth, especially in children.
- Runny nose, headaches, and nasal congestion.
- The voice sounds hoarse due to congestion.
- Chronic sinusitis, loss of the power to smell and snoring.
- In people with fungal sinusitis and cystic fibrosis, nasal polyps can change the shape of the person’s face and affect vision.
Causes of nasal polyps
Nasal polyps can develop in the four sinuses around the nose or in the nasal lining. It is a result of chronic inflammation from a viral or bacterial infection, allergies, or a fungal infection. This swelling results in increased permeability of the blood vessels in the nasal mucosa. Water collects in these cells and over time, it takes the shape of nasal polyps.
Children with fungal sinusitis and those suffering from a rare disorder, Churg-Strauss syndrome are more at risk for having nasal polyps. People with sensitivity to aspirin have a greater chance of developing nasal polyps. Therefore, if you have asthma and nasal polyps avoid taking over the counter drugs containing aspirin as it can lead to sudden breathlessness.
Treatment of nasal polyps
If a runny nose and cold continue for a very long time, consult a doctor, as it can be a case of nasal polyps. The doctor will examine the inside of your nose and may suggest a CT scan of the nose to judge the exact size and location of the polyps. Children suffering from hay fever may have to undergo a skin allergy test. Children with cystic fibrosis may undergo a sweat test to measure the amount of sodium and chloride in the child’s sweat.
Medicines can effectively overcome nasal polyps if detected early. Nasal corticosteroids sprays help reduce the swelling and the size of the polyps. Some serious patients have to take both oral and nasal corticosteroids. Oral corticosteroids have side -effects like headaches, bleeding in the nose and sore throat and hence you must take them for just a short while. If you suffer from hay fever in addition to polyps, anti-histamines can help relieve congestion.
In cases that are more serious, the patient has to undergo surgery through an endoscope to remove the polyps. It is possible to remove smaller polyps by mechanical suction using a device known as microdebrider. However, polyps can recur and may require repeated removal.
Steps to prevent nasal polyps
This is not entirely possible. However, you can minimize the chance of occurrence if you stay away from allergens like fungus. Use saline solution to open your nasal passages. Do not overuse nasal sprays, especially those containing benzalkonium that can worsen your condition.