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Nasal Polyps

Nasal Polyposis

What are nasal polyps? — Nasal polyps are growths inside the nose or the sinuses. The sinuses are hollow areas in the bones of the face (figure 1). Polyps usually occur on both sides of the nose.
Many people who have nasal polyps also have "chronic sinusitis," a condition that can cause a stuffy nose, pain in the face, and discharge (mucus) from the nose (figure 2). Doctors do not know why some people get nasal polyps.
What are the symptoms of nasal polyps? — Small polyps often do not cause any symptoms. Large polyps or having more than 1 polyp can cause:
Stuffiness or a blocked feeling in the nose
Feelings of pressure or fullness in the face
Trouble smelling
Will I need tests? — Maybe. Your doctor or nurse will probably be able to tell if you have nasal polyps by doing an exam. He or she will probably look into your nose with a special tool that has a light on it. He or she might also suggest that you have a CT scan. A CT scan is an imaging test that takes a picture of the inside of your nose and sinuses.
How are nasal polyps treated? — Nasal polyps are usually treated with medicines called steroids that come in pills or as a nose spray. Steroids used for nasal polyps are not the same as the steroids some athletes take illegally. These steroids can help shrink the polyps and make it easier to breathe. Steroid pills should only be used for short periods of time, no more than a few weeks a year. That's because they can have side effects if taken for longer.
If medicines don't shrink your polyps, your doctor might suggest surgery. But in most people, polyps tend to come back after surgery if nothing more is done. So even if you have surgery, you must also keep using steroids, usually in the form of nose sprays or nose drops. Steroid sprays and drops can be used for longer than pills, because the dose is much lower.
Is there anything I can do on my own to feel better? — Yes. Some people feel better if they rinse their nose and sinuses with salt water a few times a day. Ask your doctor or nurse if this would help in your case. If so, he or she can tell you the best way to do this.
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 30, 2020.
Topic 83335 Version 7.0
Release: 28.2.2 - C28.105
© 2020 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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