A Breath of Fresh Air
Nasal polyps are noncancerous growths that develop in the nasal passages and sinuses lining. They are soft, painless and typically have a teardrop or grape-like shape. Nasal polyps can occur singly or in clusters and can vary in size from small to large. They are often associated with chronic inflammation of the nasal lining and sinuses and can cause symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose, loss of sense of smell and postnasal drip. There is such a thing as nasal polyps removal by using medications or surgery, depending on the severity of the condition.
Prevalence of Nasal Polyps
Nasal polyps are more common in adults than children and affect men and women equally. The risk of developing nasal polyps increases with age, and they are more common in people over the age of 40. Nasal polyps are also more common in people with certain medical conditions, such as asthma, allergic rhinitis and chronic sinusitis.
What Causes Nasal Polyps to Grow?
The exact cause of nasal polyps is not fully understood, but they are thought to be the result of chronic inflammation of the nasal lining and sinuses. Inflammation can cause the blood vessels in the nasal lining to become more permeable, leading to the accumulation of fluid and the formation of polyps.
Several factors can contribute to chronic inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses, including:
Exposure to allergens such as pollen, dust and animal dander can trigger an immune response that leads to inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses.
Asthma and nasal polyps are often seen together, and it is believed that inflammation in the lungs can spread to the nasal passages and sinuses, leading to the development of polyps.
Chronic inflammation of the sinuses can cause the tissue to become swollen and lead to the formation of polyps.
Some people may have a genetic predisposition to developing nasal polyps.
Nasal polyps are more common in people over the age of 40.
Some people with nasal polyps may also be sensitive to aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can exacerbate inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses.
What Makes Nasal Polyps Worse?
Several factors can make nasal polyps worse, including:
- Environmental irritants: Exposure to environmental irritants such as cigarette smoke, air pollution and chemical fumes can also contribute to inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses, making nasal polyps worse.
- Infections: Bacterial or viral infections in the sinuses can lead to inflammation and swelling, which can aggravate nasal polyps.
- Asthma: Asthma and nasal polyps are often seen together, and poorly controlled asthma can worsen inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses, leading to the worsening of nasal polyps.
- Aspirin sensitivity: Some people with nasal polyps may also be sensitive to aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can exacerbate inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses.
- Nasal trauma: Trauma to the nose, such as a blow to the face, can cause inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses, which can worsen nasal polyps.
How Long do Nasal Polyps Last?
The duration of nasal polyps can vary depending on the underlying cause and the effectiveness of treatment. In some cases, nasal polyps can be small and resolve on their own without treatment. However, in most cases, nasal polyps tend to be persistent and may grow larger over time if left untreated.
Without treatment, nasal polyps can cause ongoing symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose and loss of sense of smell, which can significantly affect a person's quality of life. Additionally, nasal polyps can lead to complications such as sinus infections and obstructive sleep apnea.
What are the Treatment Options for Nasal Polyps?
There are several treatment options for nasal polyps, depending on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. Treatment options may include:
Nasal corticosteroids are the most common medication used to treat nasal polyps. They work by reducing inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses, which can help shrink the size of the polyps and improve breathing. Other medications, such as antihistamines and decongestants, may also be used to help manage symptoms.
In June 2019, Dupixent (dupilumab) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of chronic rhinosinusitis (inflammation of the nasal cavity and sinuses) accompanied by nasal polyps in adults. This marks the first approved treatment for individuals with chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps that are not well-controlled.
In some cases, oral corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and shrink the size of the polyps. Also, antibiotics may be prescribed if a bacterial infection is contributing to the development of nasal polyps.
Nasal Saline Irrigation
This involves flushing the nasal passages with a saline solution, which can help to reduce inflammation and improve breathing.
Allergy shots or other immunotherapy treatments may be recommended if allergies contribute to the development of nasal polyps.
In cases where medication and other treatments are not effective, surgery may be necessary to remove the polyps. The most common surgical procedure for nasal polyps is called endoscopic sinus surgery, which involves using a small camera and instruments to remove the polyps through the nose
Remember: Polyps may Reappear After Treatment
It is important to note that while these treatments can help manage symptoms and reduce the size of the polyps, nasal polyps can recur even after treatment. Regular follow-up with a healthcare provider is necessary to monitor the condition and adjust treatment.