Nasal polyps are noncancerous teardrop-shaped growths that develop in the nose or sinuses. These occur around the area where the sinuses open into the nasal cavity, hanging down as peeled grapes.
It happens from chronic inflammation and is associated with asthma, recurring infection, allergies, drug sensitivity and some immune disorders.
Small nasal polyps is not a cause of concern, but larger growths or groups of nasal polyps may block the nasal passages or lead to breathing problems, a lost sense of smell and frequent infections.
Nasal polyps affect anyone and are more common in adults. Medications can shrink or eliminate nasal polyps and is required in some cases to remove them. Nasal polyps usually may return even after successful treatment.
Understand the symptoms
Nasal polyps are linked to soreness and swelling (inflammation) of the nasal passages and sinuses lining, which may persist over 12 weeks (chronic sinusitis). Sometimes, chronic sinusitis without nasal polyps may occur.
Nasal polyps are soft and lack sensation, so there are no symptoms when these are small. Only when multiple growths or a large polyp occurs can block the nasal passages and sinuses.
The usual signs of chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps are runny nose, persistent stuffiness, decreased or absent sense of smell, postnasal drip, loss of sense of taste. The other symptoms are facial pain or headache, snoring, frequent nosebleeds, pain in the upper teeth and a sense of pressure over the forehead and face.
Consult the doctor
Talk to a doctor when the symptoms continue over ten days. The symptoms of chronic sinusitis and nasal polyps are similar to several other conditions, like the common cold.
Immediate medical care in an emergency is needed when you have severe trouble breathing and sudden worsening of the symptoms. The other signs of concern that require medical attention are severe swelling around the eyes, double vision, lessened vision or limited capacity to move the eyes and frequent occurrences of severe headache along with high fever or inability to tip the head forward.
Know the causes
Nasal polyps vary in severity and symptoms in different people, but their reasons remain unknown. The swelling happens in the fluid-producing lining (mucous membrane) of the nose and sinuses.
Some indications show that people who develop polyps have different immune system responses and distinct chemical markers in their mucous membranes different from those who don't grow polyps.
Nasal polyps may happen at any age but are most common in young and middle-aged adults. Nasal polyps can develop anywhere in the sinuses or nasal passages but commonly develop in an area where sinuses near the eyes, nose and cheekbones all drain through winding paths into the nose.
Recognise the risk
Conditions that trigger long-term inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages or sinuses, like infections or allergies, can raise the risk of developing nasal polyps.
Common conditions include aspirin sensitivity, vitamin D deficiency, an allergy to airborne fungi, and cystic fibrosis genetic disorder that causes abnormally thick mucus from nasal and sinus linings. Also, a rare condition of Churg-Strauss syndrome causes blood vessels' inflammation and can lead to nasal polyps.
Family history may also result in this condition; evidence shows that genetic variations associated with immune system function may develop nasal polyps.
Nasal polyps may block normal airflow, fluid drainage and long-term irritation and swelling (inflammation) due to its development. It potentially leads to complications such as obstructive sleep apnea - a severe condition in which you stop and start frequently breathing during sleep. Other complications with nasal polyps are asthma flare-ups that worsen and make you sensitive to sinus infections that repeat often.
Measures for prevention
Limit the occurrence of developing nasal polyps or reoccurrences after treatment with the following steps:
• Always manage allergies and asthma as per the doctor's recommendations to keep it well controlled.
• Avoid nasal irritants such as breathing airborne substances that cause swelling or irritation in the nose and sinuses. These include allergens, tobacco smoke, chemical fumes, and dust and fine debris.
• Practice good hygiene with frequent hand washing, the best way to prevent bacterial and viral infections.
• Use a humidifier to moisten the breathing passages, improve the flow of mucus from the sinuses, and prevent blockages and inflammation. Do regular clean up of the humidifier to prevent bacteria from growing.
• Use a saltwater (saline) spray or nasal wash to clean the nasal passages, improve mucus flow and eliminate allergens and irritants. Over-the-counter saline sprays or nasal wash kits with devices, like a neti pot or squeeze bottle, are available in the market to administer a rinse.
• Use only distilled, sterile, previously boiled water for drinking and cooking.