Nasal Polyps – About
In some cases, polyps grow into the nasal passage. They usually originate at the sinus openings. Polyps are like teardrop-shaped collections of inflammatory cells, fluid, and tissue. They are covered by a mucous membrane. They can grow in response to infection, allergy, locations of abnormal contact, or for unknown reasons. When polyps are widespread, it is usually from some underlying mucosal abnormality.
Nasal Polyps – Diagnosis
Your doctor can usually make a diagnosis based on your answers to questions about your symptoms, a general physical exam and an examination of your nose. Polyps may be visible with the aid of a simple lighted instrument.
Other diagnostic tests include:
- Nasal endoscopy. A narrow tube with a lighted magnifying lens or tiny camera (nasal endoscope) enables your doctor to perform a detailed examination inside your nose and sinuses. He or she inserts the endoscope into a nostril and guides it into your nasal cavity.
- Imaging studies. Images obtained with computerized tomography (CT) can help your doctor pinpoint the size and location of polyps in deeper areas of your sinuses and evaluate the extent of inflammation. These studies may also help your doctor rule out the presence of other possible obstructions in your nasal cavity, such as structural abnormalities or another type of cancerous or noncancerous growth.
- Allergy tests. Your doctor may suggest skin tests to determine if allergies are contributing to chronic inflammation. With a skin prick test, tiny drops of allergy-causing agents (allergens) are pricked into the skin of your forearm or upper back. The drops are left on your skin for 15 minutes before your doctor or nurse observes your skin for signs of allergic reactions.
If a skin test cannot be performed, your doctor may order a blood test that screens for specific antibodies to various allergens.
- Test for cystic fibrosis. If you have a child diagnosed with nasal polyps, your doctor may suggest testing for cystic fibrosis, an inherited condition affecting the glands that produce mucus, tears, sweat, saliva and digestive juices. The standard diagnostic test for cystic fibrosis is a noninvasive sweat test, which determines whether your child's perspiration is saltier than most people's sweat is.
Nasal Polyps – Treatment
Polyps may respond to medications such as steroids. If they block breathing, interfere with sinus drainage, or cause other problems they may need to be removed. If infection or other local phenomenon is the underlying problem, the polyps will usually not return. If they originally grew as a result of allergic or non-allergic rhinitis, allergic fungal sinusitis, or if they are associated with aspirin sensitivity, they are more prone to return after surgery.