Nasal polyps are a fairly common condition that develop in approximately 4% of the population in the United States. These growths are benign, and in most cases they aren’t a cause for concern. In some cases, however, polyps can interfere with the function of the nasal passageways and sinuses.
Cecil Yeung, MD and Marcus Hershey, MD here at Houston Sinus Surgery have extensive experience helping patients with problematic nasal polyps, and we understand when we should take action. To help you discern the difference between harmless polyps and those that require intervention, we’ve outlined a few guidelines below.
Nasal polyps 101
As we mentioned, nasal polyps are fairly common. The polyps themselves are noncancerous growths that form in the linings of your nasal passages and sinuses. Typically tear-drop shaped, polyps can grow singularly or in groups, and they can range in size, which dictates the treatment to a large extent.
The cause of nasal polyps is unclear, but researchers believe that the problem may be related to several risk factors, including:
- Chronic rhinosinusitis
- Asthma or allergies
- Autoimmune issues
- Cystic fibrosis
- Sensitivity to certain medications, such as aspirin
Despite the lack of a clear cause, the good news is that nasal polyps aren’t dangerous. However, they can be problematic if they’re numerous or large enough.
Recognizing problematic polyps
If your polyps are small enough, you may not be aware of their existence. If, however, they grow larger or develop in groups, you may experience problems with:
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of taste or smell
- Postnasal drip
- Runny nose
- Chronic sinusitis
- Pressure around your sinuses
In severe cases, you may experience facial pain, which may affect your upper teeth.
Ultimately, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s well worth having us take a look to see if nasal polyps are to blame.
Treating nasal polyps
If we find that nasal polyps are behind your problems, there are several ways we can go about remedying the issue. We prefer to first treat your nasal polyps conservatively, which we can do with steroids or antibiotics.
If these medications prove ineffective, we can explore whether a balloon sinuplasty could be beneficial. During this noninvasive procedure, we insert a balloon into the passageway between your nose and sinus and expand the area, allowing for better drainage.
If your polyps are large enough and they’re causing significant problems for you, we may recommend surgical removal of the growths. Dr. Yeung is pleased to offer an innovative technique called functional endoscopic sinus surgery, in which he removes the polyps using a specialized camera and surgical equipment to minimize damage and shorten your recovery time.
If you think nasal polyps could be interfering with your nasal function, book an appointment online or over the phone with Houston Sinus Surgery today.