Nasal polyps are usually encountered by otolaryngologists. Polyps are local growths of mucosal membranes that may protrude into various organs or body cavities. General information about polyps can be found in related article.
Nasal polyps grow in the nasal cavity or in the paranasal sinuses. They often occur without a clear reason but they can be consequences of long-term irritation and chronic inflammation in allergic rhinitis and asthma. Nasal polyps are common in patients with cystic fibrosis.
Small polyps may be totally asymptomatic, but larger polyps may obstruct the nasal cavity, thus limiting breathing by nose and forcing the affected person to breathe through the mouth. It is especially unpleasant when lying in the bed at night when the person suffers from difficult breathing. Polyps may also compress the apertures that connect nasal cavity with paranasal sinuses, thus increasing the risk of recurrent sinusitides. Very large polyps can cause disturbances of smell and the largest may even protrude out of the nasal cavity.
Diagnosis is carried out by an otolaryngologist. The polyp can be seen by the naked eye and the doctor can dilate the opening of nostrils by a special instrument. Deeper located polyps may be examined by a special endoscopic device. To evaluate the polyp's precise anatomical location and its size, computed tomography may be performed.
Small polyps can be treated conservatively by nasal sprays containing corticosteroids. These drugs are not very friendly to the mucous membranes, but they inhibit inflammation and the growth of polyps. Large polyps must be removed by otolaryngological surgical procedures. Some interventions are performed n local anesthesia, major surgeries must be done in general anesthesia. It should be noted, that the polyps tend to recur even after their successful surgical removal.