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Nasal polyposis: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About nasal polyposis

Nasal polyposis is an uncommonly encountered upper respiratory problem which results from inflammation of nasal tract and sinuses. This inflammation of nasal mucous membrane leads to formation of sac like growths which can cause obstruction of nasal passages. These nasal polyps can be symptomatically treated, as well as managed effectively with surgical modality.

Nasal polyposis: Incidence, age and sex

Nasal polyps may be encountered in individuals of any age but its incidence is higher in adults. It affects almost 4% of the general population.

Signs and symptoms of nasal polyposis: Diagnosis

The clinical features of nasal polyps include long standing or frequent episodes of runny nose, sneezing and irritation of nasal passages. Other features like mouth breathing and blocked nose may also be seen. Repeated attacks of cough and cold arising due to presence of nasal polyps may also impair the sense of smell. The symptoms of nasal polyps may be episodic or persistent.

A detailed history together with comprehensive physical examination of the nose and sinuses may help in detecting the condition. A nasal examination may reveal a greyish or purplish grey like mass in the nasal cavity which is characteristic of nasal polyps. Other tests like CT scan of the nose or nasal endoscopy may be considered in cases, where diagnosis is uncertain.

Causes and prevention of nasal polyposis

Nasal polyposis is a condition which arises due to persistent or repeated episodes of inflammation (swelling and redness) of the mucous membranes of the sinuses and nasal passages. Such persistent inflammatory response usually leads to the formation of small growths in the nasal mucous membrane. Individuals who have concurrent allergic conditions like asthma, hay fever or sinusitis and those with immunodeficiency diseases like cystic fibrosis, IgA deficiency or primary ciliary dyskinesia are more susceptible to nasal polyposis.

Avoidance of allergic irritants and smoking cessation may help in curbing frequent cough and cold episodes, thereby preventing development of nasal polyposis.

Nasal polyposis: Complications

Nasal polyposis leads to repeated episodes of cold and cough which may result in intense distress and may also affect sleep and concentration. Moreover nasal polyps may get affected with bacterial infection manifested by fever and intense nasal discomfort. Very rarely, an affected individual may experience bleeding from these nasal polyps.

Nasal polyposis: Treatment

Symptomatic relief in nasal polyposis can be provided by various medical modalities. Anti-allergic medications are frequently prescribed to curb repeated episodes of runny nose. Nasal saline wash can also be used to clear nasal congestion and irritation. Steroidal nasal sprays are another option when above measures fail. Such medicated sprays can safely be used in children and adults. In severe cases, oral steroid medication (prednisone) may be considered. If the sinuses or nasal polyps get secondarily infected with bacteria, then antibiotic medications may be needed to treat the individual. In individuals with large polyps obstructing the nasal passages, surgical modality may also be considered. In fact, surgical removal of polyps is the only curative modality in managing nasal polyposis. However these polyps have a high tendency to recur even after surgical removal.