Head & Neck

Common Symptoms of Nasal Polyps

written by Becki Andrus

When the tissue within your nose becomes chronically inflamed, it can lead to the development of abnormal growths on the lining of your nasal passages. These sac-like pockets of swollen tissue can not only be uncomfortable, but they can lead to other complications when left untreated.

How Can You Tell if You Have Nasal Polyps?

You can’t see into your nasal passageways at home, but an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor can use specialized tools to inspect your nasal lining. Even though you can’t see the polyps, other signs could indicate the presence of growths within your nasal passageways:

  • Nasal congestion that doesn’t subside for months
  • Runny nose
  • Decreased sense of smell
  • A feeling of sinus fullness or pressure
  • Postnasal drip
  • Breathing through your mouth
  • Feeling of blockages in your nose and sinuses
  • Sneezing

If you have a fever and discolored drainage from your nose, then the symptoms are likely caused by a head cold. The timeline of symptoms can also be an indication of nasal polyps. For example, a head cold usually clears up in 7 – 10 days, while the symptoms of nasal polyps can stay for months.

Nasal Polyps: Why Do You Have Them?

Understanding why you have nasal polyps might help you identify the most effective treatment for your condition. Within the bones of your face, the sinus cavities hold pockets of air-filled spaces that connect in a network to the nasal passages. Usually, these spaces are open, and you can breathe through your nose. But the development of nasal polyps can cause blockages on these spaces, making it difficult to breathe. Additionally, these blockages can affect the way your sinuses drain throughout the day.

Growths within the nasal cavity are often benign. But cancerous growths can also show up in the nasal cavity, which is why it is important to consult with an ENT if you have any concerns. These growths are fairly common, and they are usually non-cancerous nasal polyps.

The exact cause of nasal polyps hasn’t been identified. But doctors have found certain factors that can contribute to the development of nasal polyps:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Genetics

Even though nasal polyps can affect anyone, it’s common for these symptoms to occur in people over the age of 40. Additionally, men are more likely to get nasal polyps than women.

Professional Diagnosis from an Experienced ENT

When you are experiencing chronic symptoms affecting your ears, nose, or throat, then it is time to talk to an ENT about your health concerns. During this examination, your doctor will ask questions about the symptoms and your health history. A small, lighted tool can also be used to look at the nasal passages to see any visible polyps.

Sometimes, this simple exam is sufficient for the diagnosis. But additional tests might be needed, depending on your situation. Common diagnostic tests include:

  • Nasal Endoscopy: A flexible, long tube is inserted into the nose so the doctor can get a closer look at the sinuses and inner nose.
  • CT Scan or MRI: Digital imaging can be helpful to see the inner structures of the sinuses and nasal cavities.
  • Biopsy: When polyps are discovered, your doctor might want to take a tissue sample for biopsy. This test is important for ruling out a cancerous growth.
  • Allergy Testing: If the nasal polyps are caused by allergies, then testing can be done to identify your allergy triggers.

Treatment Options to Reduce Your Symptoms

The recommended treatment plan will vary depending on the severity of your symptoms, your age, and your overall health. The goal of treatment is to reduce the inflammation you are experiencing, which naturally helps to reduce the size of these polyps.

Your ENT might recommend one or more of the following treatments for managing your nasal polyps:

  • Steroid medications, inhaled through the nose
  • Oral medications to decrease inflammation
  • Antibiotics if an infection is present
  • Sinus rinsing using a saltwater solution (daily)
  • Antihistamines if allergies are contributing to the nasal polyps

If these treatments don’t eliminate or improve your symptoms, then a surgical procedure might be recommended. Surgery can help to get rid of many symptoms. But every patient should understand that nasal polyps can come back again in a few months or years. If you choose surgery, then continue working with your ENT to address other underlying concerns that are causing the development of nasal polyps. For example, you might continue using nasal steroid sprays or steroid irrigation to prevent the polyps from coming back.

Why You Shouldn’t Delay Treatment for Nasal Polyps

Even if your nasal polyp symptoms are minor, this chronic inflammation in the nasal passageways can lead to serious health complications in the future. For example, long-lasting inflammation can make it hard for the body to fight off bacterial sinus infections – resulting in chronic sinusitis. Small infections in the nasal area can lead to an infection around the spinal cord, brain, and eyes.

Additionally, large nasal polyps can block air passages while you are sleeping. This condition is known as obstructive sleep apnea, which can lead to a long list of other health concerns. Poor sleep can cause drowsiness and fatigue, and even lead to heart disease in the future.

The best thing you can do is talk to an ENT about your symptoms and concerns. Your doctor can monitor the presence of nasal polyps, and help you determine the right course of action to support your overall health.

Always call your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Swelling around your eyes
  • Changes in your vision
  • Loss of alertness
  • Confusion

Don’t hesitate to talk to an ENT if you have questions about your upper respiratory health. If you live near the Dallas or Collin County area, then we are here to help! Contact our team at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat located in Frisco and Plano, TX. Fill out our online form for an appointment request, or call (972) 596-4005.

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