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Apr 4, 2018

What You Need to Know about Nasal Polyps

Have you been experiencing trouble breathing through your nose? Losing your sense of smell and taste? Perhaps painful sinus headaches that affect life, making daily activities difficult? These could be the signs of nasal polyps. Many patients begin to notice this issue after developing symptoms that won’t go away after a lengthy period of time.

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What Are Polyps?


Nasal polyps are grape-like growths that occurs in the nasal and sinus cavities. They begin to block the airways in the nostrils and can even begin to spread. Most people don’t notice that there is anything wrong until an obvious sign occurs, such as a persistent sinus headache or a rise in the number of times they get sick or develop an infection. The polyps grow gradually over time, which means that many patients don’t notice that they have a problem because the body has adjusted with the growth. Patients who have their polyps treated often note a major positive impact on their nasal breathing as well as other nose and sinus related symptoms.

How Are Polyps Diagnosed?

Patients with stuffy nose, diminished sense of smell and taste, postnasal drainage, etc may at some point make their way to an ear, nose and throat physician. Further evaluation will often involve a nasal endoscopy in which the doctor uses a small lighted rod to view back into the nasal passages. It is on careful examination, often with endoscopy, that patients are sometimes found to have nasal polyps. Further studies, such as CT scans, may be performed to help determine the extent of the polyps and the sinus blockage.

How Can Polyps be Treated?

Some polyps respond well to medications and others do not. There is an increasingly wide range of prescription nasal sprays and oral medications that can slow down the growth of polyps and, in some cases, shrink them. On occasion, it may be recommended that polyps be surgically removed so that the topical medications can work more effectively to keep them from coming back. Fortunately, surgery for polyps has changed a lot during the past few years, and is now usually an outpatient, minimally-invasive procedure without packing, bruising, or splints, and only minimal discomfort while the healing process occurs.  Small stents are now available that can be implanted during surgery and give off anti-inflammatory medication for several weeks.

In any case, polyps should always be evaluated by an ear, nose, and throat physician. Some polyps – particularly those that occur on one side only – need careful evaluation to ensure that there is not a more serious condition present.

To get help with nasal polyps, contact of Dr. Samuel S. Becker, a sinus specialist located in Pennsylvania. He is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a board-certified specialist in otolaryngology. For more information about him, visit his website at www.beckerent.com.

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