Nasal Polyps - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Nasal polyp is a small benign tumor that grows inside the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses, usually as a result of chronic inflammation of the airways.

Nasal polyps
Nasal polyps

What is a nasal polyps

Nasal polyp is a benign tumor that arises in the mucosa of the nasal cavity and has nothing to do with cancer.

Anyone can have one or more nasal polyps, but they are more common in individuals over 40 years. In children, these polyps are rare. While the adult population the incidence of polyps can reach 5% in children it is only found in about 0.1%.

Nasal polyps can develop in any part of the nasal cavity and the paranasal sinuses. They are usually associated with cases of chronic inflammation of the airways, such as asthma and allergic rhinitis.

small nasal polyps usually cause no symptoms and go unnoticed. Moreover, polyps or more grouped nasal polyps can block the nasal passages and lead to respiratory problems, loss of smell and frequent infections.

Causes of nasal polyps

We do not know exactly why nasal polyps arise. It is believed that there is a relationship between genetic predisposition and chronic inflammatory processes in the airways.

Among the known risk factors include:
  • Family history of nasal polyps
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Asthma
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Allergy to aspirin
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Churg-Strauss syndrome

It is important to note that not all patients with the above diseases develop nasal polyps. The patient needs to have some genetic predisposition for these diseases serve as a trigger for the development of polyps in the nasal cavity.

There is a strong association between allergy to aspirin and the presence of nasal polyps. Patients who are allergic to aspirin and have rhinitis frames or recurrent sinusitis should investigate the presence of nasal polyps. Similarly, patients have confirmed diagnosis of nasal polyps should avoid aspirin consumption.

Symptoms of nasal polyps

Symptoms of nasal polyps depend on the size or number. When they are large enough to block the nasal passages or sinuses, polyps usually cause chronic sinusitis frame. Among the most common symptoms include:
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal constipation
  • Decrease of smell
  • Decreased sense of taste
  • Headache or face (similar to what happens in sinusitis)
  • Pain in the upper teeth
  • Feeling of heaviness or pressure in the sinuses
  • Itchy eyes
  • Snoring while sleeping

The presence of polyps and could cause chronic sinusitis, facilitates the occurrence of respiratory infections. Polyps can also cause asthma attacks, obstructive sleep apnea and eye infections.

The diagnosis is usually made by Otolaryngologist by rhinoscopy, a kind of nasal endoscopy. In cases of doubt, a CT scan or MRI of the sinuses may be helpful.

Treatment of nasal polyps

The treatment of nasal polyps is usually done with nasal spray corticosteroids, such as fluticasone, budesonide or triamcinolone. These drugs may cause shrinkage, and in some cases even disappearance of polyps. If nasal steroids do not work, the otolaryngologist may prescribe steroids orally. Corticosteroids in tablet are more effective but have a higher incidence of side effects. Antihistamines may also be used.

Antibiotics do not act directly in the polyps, but can be used if there is active infection of the airways.

Surgery for nasal polyps

If drug treatment fails, your otolaryngologist may propose surgical removal of polyps.

The surgery to remove nasal polyps is called a polypectomy. It is usually performed endoscopically under local anesthesia and has duration shorter than 1 hour. The recovery time is 1 to 2 weeks. Postoperatively, the patient must often return to the otolaryngologist to perform cleaning of the nasal cavity.

Polyps may grow back, which is why the use of nasal steroids is indicated after surgery. In cases of recurrence, further surgery may be required.

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