Nasal polyps don’t always cause obvious symptoms. The polyps usually develop in the nose and sinuses and can hang down into the post nasal space. This can result in a blocked nose. This can also lead to sinus infections. The cause of nasal polyps is unknown but inflammation because of allergies or infection can either trigger polyps or cause existing polyps to grow faster.
Although some people can develop polyps with no previous nasal problems, nasal problems can often be a trigger for the growths of polyps.
Some of these triggers include:
- Allergic rhinitis or hay fever
- Chronic or recurring sinus infections
There can also be a tendency for some people to develop polyps because of hereditary factors. As nasal polyps do not have any nerve sensation, you may not even know that you have them. Polyps can grow quite large and can block your nasal passages and this can result in chronic congestion.
Some of the symptoms of this are:
- Sleep apnea
- Nasal congestion or stuffiness
- Breathing through your mouth
- Runny nose
- Blocked nose
- Postnasal drip, which is when mucous runs down the back of your throat
- Reduced sense of smell
- A feeling of pressure in your forehead or face
- Pain and headaches can also occur if there is a sinus infection present as well
Diagnosis of Nasal Polyps
We diagnose nasal polyps by looking up into your nasal passages using an instrument called a nasoscope. If the polyps are higher up and deeper into the sinuses or post nasal space we may need to perform a nasal endoscopy.
To do this we use a thin flexible tube with a light and a camera attached and guide this gently into your nasal passages. At times a CT scan or an MRI may be needed to determine the exact location and size of the polyps This can also rule out any other growths that could be more medically serious.
A full allergic workup may be needed to help us determine what the source of the nasal inflammation is. This can involve blood tests as well as a skin test where tiny pricks are made on the skin of your arm and then different allergens in a liquid form are placed onto the skin. We can then see what you may react to.
There are some medications that can reduce the inflammation in your nose and also nasal sprays that can reduce the actual polyps. But if you stop this treatment, your symptoms will quickly return.
We also perform surgery to remove polyps as this is sometimes necessary. This is called a polypectomy. After the surgery there is always a risk that the polyps may return, or new polyps may develop, particularly in patients that have chronic nasal problems.