Nasal polyps are benign, soft, gelatinous growths that develop in the lining of the nose or sinuses. They originate in the maxillary, frontal, and ethmoidal sinuses and migrate from there to the upper nasal cavity.
Small nasal polyps cause no discomfort and can often be ignored. However, when they grow larger, they can cause nasal congestion and breathing difficulties. In this case, they need to be treated surgically.
Nasal polyps are more common in adults, with a male predominance, especially in those who suffer from allergies and sinusitis. In children, the presence of nasal polyps may be a sign of cystic fibrosis.
In addition to nasal congestion and difficulty breathing, symptoms of nasal polyposis may include:
If the situation worsens, or if massive nasal polyps are present that cause changes in the structure of the nasal pyramid, asthma attacks, and obstructive sleep apnea may occur.
The causes of nasal polyps are not fully understood. However, it is a chronic inflammation of the nasal mucosa that leads to an increase in volume and externalization of the nasal cavity. The causes may be:
The use of certain medications and smog may also be associated with the appearance of nasal polyposis.
The first step in diagnosing nasal polyps is to see an otolaryngologist. The doctor will take a detailed medical history to assess genetic predisposition to the condition and identify any associated conditions.
In addition, the following tests may be useful for diagnosis:
In rare cases of nasal polyps in children, cystic fibrosis testing should be considered.
Small nasal polyps are usually treated with corticosteroids administered as a nasal spray or tablet over a quarterly treatment period. In cases of associated bacterial infection, antibiotics may also be prescribed.
However, it is important to consider pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, which may be exacerbated by corticoids.
Larger polyps are removed surgically. Two surgical techniques are used:
Cortisone sprays are likely to be prescribed after the operation to prevent or delay recurrence, i.e. the formation of further polyps.