Nasal polyps are benign growths of cells that can appear on the lining of the nasal passages and sinuses. They tend to be teardrop-shaped, and while smaller polyps can go unnoticed, larger ones can cause nasal blockages. These can reduce the sense of smell, cause continual sinus infections, and breathing difficulties. Nasal polyps are most common in adults with asthma or allergies or children with cystic fibrosis. They can be removed by several types of medicine or surgery.
Treating Nasal Polyps with Medication
Take corticosteroids through a nasal spray. Drugs such as fluticasone, budesonide, flunisolide, triamcinolone and beclomethasone can all shrink or even completely eliminate many nasal polyps. These drugs come under a number of common brand names; your doctor will prescribe one.
Inject corticosteroids or take them orally. The same medications that are in nasal sprays can also be administered in pills or hypodermic form if the nasal spray is proving ineffective. These tend to be short-term treatments, as both injections and oral corticosteroids can result in serious side effects.
Take non-steroid medications. Nasal polyps can be treated by treating other conditions that cause inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses. Doctors may prescribe antihistamines to reduce allergy-induced inflammation, anti-fungal drugs to get rid of fungal infections, or antibiotics to get rid of persistent nasal infections.
Removing Nasal Polyps Surgically
Undergo a polypectomy. In this procedure, the polyp is removed using a small device called a microdebrider that cuts and extracts soft tissue, or with a suction device. In either case, this is an outpatient procedure, which means that you don't have to spend a night in the hospital. Many polyps can be entirely removed this way.
Have endoscopic sinus surgery. In this procedure, the surgeon threads a small tube called an endoscope through your nose into the sinus cavities. The end of the tube contains a video camera and tiny surgical instruments that cut and remove the polyps from inside the sinuses. This is also an outpatient procedure.
Follow any post-operative care instructions. You will likely be prescribed a dose of corticosteroids in nasal spray form to prevent the return of the polyps. You may also be required to rinse your nose regularly with salted water to speed the healing process.