By definition- Nasal polyp is a prolapsed pedunculated (penducle) part of the inflamed nasal mucosa. It is not a neoplasm. Nasal polyps are completely inflammatory in origin. A polyp is an abnormal growth that arises from tissues in the mucous membrane. It protrudes from certain surfaces and this protrusion blocks or hinders the normal functioning of the area where they are found.
In the case of nasal polyps, they arise from the mucous membranes of the nose and in the paranasal sinus. They are commonly the result of an allergic reaction and may accompany allergic rhinitis.
Usually there are two types of nasal polyps
- Antrochoanal: It arises from maxillary antrum and grows backwards in the nose towards the choana (posterior nasal passage) and reaches the naso-pharynx.
- Ethmoidal: These are multiple, bilateral and arise from ethmoidal sinuses and tend to protrude forwards.
Antrochoanal polyps usually occur in children and young adults, while ethmoidal polyps occur at any age.
What Causes Nasal Polyps?
The exact cause of nasal polyps is difficult to determine. In fact, most cases of nasal polyps have unknown origins. However, one prevailing belief is that they are caused by allergy from various allergens such as dust and pollen.
This belief suggests that when allergens are inhaled, they irritate the mucosal lining. As a reaction of the mucous membrane, a polyp is formed to indicate that it has been affected by an allergen.
Another belief is that polyps are the result of asthma attacks and other existing respiratory ailments. In some cases of polyps that are thought to be of this nature, pain and bleeding may occur, which may suggest an intranasal tumor.
Symptoms Of Nasal Polyps
- Allergy may cause polyps. Ethmoidal polyps are usually of allergic origin.
- Infection may also produce polyps.
Patients have usually the following symptoms:
- Blocking of nose
- Clear nasal discharge
- Speech may become nasal
- Sneezing (associated with allergic polyps).
- Expansion of nose may occur especially with chronic nasal polyps (ethmoidal).
- Anosmia (loss of smell sensation) may often be present.
Preventing Nasal Polyps
- Patients with ethmoidal polyps, where allergy plays a vital role, should avoid cold air, breezes and cold drinks. Smoke fumes or dusty atmosphere and scented oils should be avoided.
- Patients are advised to consume lots of water and liquids.
- Avoid all foods and drinks which may cause allergy like ice-cream, curd, buttermilk, cold drinks etc.
- Supportive measures like hot fomentation may be given.
Home Remedies For Nasal Polyps
Conservative treatment usually helps only with ethmoidal polyps. Polypectomy or surgical removal is the treatment of choice. Home remedies in this case will only be for alleviating the symptoms associated with nasal polyps which include nasal blockage, nasal discharge and sneezing.
- Black tea prepared with dry ginger powder and basil leaves helps relieving nasal discharge and sneezing and headache if associated.
- Turmeric powder (1 teaspoon) mixed in a cup of hot milk, which is boiled and sugar added to it, usually gives symptomatic relief.
- Steam inhalation can be very helpful in relieving congestion; this can be used with menthol or eucalyptus oil.
- If the nasal discharge becomes yellowish then it signifies infection, in these cases freshly prepared garlic juice helps in relieving symptoms. Garlic acts as natural antibiotics.
Nasal Polyps Treatment
- The most common cure for nasal polyps is through nasal corticosteroids, which come in the form of a spray. Regularly spraying the polyp will reduce the inflammation and may even terminate it completely. Nasal corticosteroids are available in most drugstores through prescription from a doctor.
- Aside from corticosteroids, doctors can also prescribe to you other medications such as antihistamines to treat allergies, antibiotics to treat recurring infection, and anti-fungal medications to treat fungal allergies.
- When these medications fail, a patient may undergo polypectomy wherein the soft tissues particularly the polyps are extracted or removed using a small mechanical suction device known as the microdebrider.
- Another surgical procedure commonly used today to treat nasal polyps is endoscopic sinus surgery. The name of this procedure is taken from the use of an endoscope, which is a small tube with a camera at the tip that guides the surgeon in extracting the polyp.