If you’re struggling with seemingly never-ending congestion that doesn’t respond to medications, this is a classic sign of nasal polyps. Thankfully, nasal polyps aren’t all that serious, because these growths in your nasal passages are benign.
However, while the condition isn’t particularly dangerous, medically speaking, the polyps can become more than just a minor nuisance, because they can contribute to ongoing congestion and interfere with your ability to breathe freely.
To paint a more complete picture of nasal polyps, Dr. Cecil Yeung and Dr. Marcus Hershey — both board-certified physicians here at Houston Sinus Surgery — pulled together this primer on the common condition.
Nasal polyps: A benign condition
If there’s one word that you want to hear when talking about growths in the human body, it’s benign. And that’s exactly what nasal polyps are. They’re benign (noncancerous) growths in your nasal passageways.
The growths develop in the nasal mucosa, which is the layer of tissue that produces mucus inside your nose. If this tissue becomes irritated or inflamed, and these symptoms occur frequently, the prolonged irritation can lead to the formation of polyps.
Blocking the passages
While nasal polyps are benign, that doesn’t mean they can’t be bothersome. These growths in your nasal passages can lead to:
- Difficult-to-clear nasal congestion
- Difficulty breathing
- Runny nose
- Mouth breathing
- Reduced sense of smell
If you have sleep apnea, nasal polyps can make this condition worse, because they may make you too dependent on breathing through your mouth.
Mostly a secondary problem
In most cases, nasal polyps are a byproduct of another issue. For example, the most common cause of nasal polyps is chronic rhinosinusitis, which is a condition in which your sinuses are frequently inflamed. Research shows that about 25-30% of people with chronic inflammation in their sinuses develop nasal polyps.
Outside of chronic rhinosinusitis, other issues that can lead to nasal polyps include:
- Cystic fibrosis
Nasal polyps are also linked to a sensitivity toward ibuprofen or aspirin.
Treating problematic nasal polyps
If you have any of the symptoms we described above, our first order of business is to check your nasal passages for polyps with a scope.
If we find polyps, we then figure out what’s causing them and treat the underlying condition. As an example, for nasal polyps caused by chronic sinusitis, our goal is to reduce the inflammation in your sinuses. This, in turn, can result in a shrinking of your polyps.
Aside from treating the underlying inflammation, we can also try steroid medications to shrink your nasal polyps.
If your polyps don’t respond to conservative treatments and continue to pose problems in your airways, we can remove the growths during an outpatient procedure called functional endoscopic sinus surgery.
However, before we dive too far into your treatment options for nasal polyps, it’s important that you come see us first, so we can figure out whether they’re to blame for your symptoms.
To get started, please call or book an appointment online with Houston Sinus Surgery today.