Nasal Polyps

Have you ever felt like you have a cold that never goes away Or nasal congestion that doesn’t seem to get better with over-the-counter cold or allergy medication?

Maybe you have Nasal polyps!

Nasal polyps are soft, painless and freely mobile non-cancerous growths that tend to develop on the inner lining of your nasal passage or paranasal sinuses. They hang down like teardrops or grapes within your nasal cavity, often in the area where the upper sinuses drain into your nose (where your eyes, nose, and cheekbones meet).

Nasal polyps result from chronic inflammation and are often associated with asthma, recurring infections, allergies, drug sensitivity or certain immune disorders.

While smaller polyps don’t usually create many problems, the larger ones can block your nasal passage causing annoying symptoms such as incessant sneezing, stopped-up or a blocked nose causing difficulty in breathing, a loss of sense of smell or a dampening sense of taste.

Nasal polyps can affect anyone but are more common in adults.

A Few Common Queries Related To Nasal Polyps

# Why does one get nasal polyps; are there any risk factors that predispose one to the condition? 

Any condition that triggers a long-term irritation or inflammation in your nasal passage or sinuses, such as infections or allergies, may increase your risk of developing nasal polyps. Disease conditions associated with nasal polyps include asthma, cystic fibrosis (a genetic disorder that results in abnormally thick, sticky fluids in the body, including thick mucus from nasal and sinus linings), chronic or recurring rhinitis, sinusitis, allergic fungal sinusitis, sensitivity to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin, and certain immune disorders.

Your family history may also play a role. There’s evidence that certain genetic variations associated with immune system function make you more prone to develop nasal polyps.

# How do I know I have nasal polyps?

Since nasal polyps themselves are soft and lack any sensation, polyps that are smaller in size show no symptoms at all. However, multiple growths or a single polyp may grow large enough to block your nasal passages, resulting in chronic congestion. The most prominent symptom pointing towards a nasal polyp is a very persistent stuffy nose. Other accompanying symptoms resulting from chronic irritation/inflammation of the lining can be:

  • sneezing
  • a runny nose
  • post nasal drip
  • a blocked nose, causing you to breathe through the mouth
  • reduced sense of smell
  • decreased/loss of sense of taste
  • headache with a sense of pressure in the forehead and root of the nose
  • facial pain or pain in your upper teeth
  • snoring
  • frequent nosebleeds

# What medical investigations do doctors propose for nasal polyps?

Although they are easily detected in a plain X-ray, detailed investigations for nasal polyps may include nasal endoscopy, CT scan or MRI.

Allergy skin prick test or allergy panel blood test is done in patients with co-existing allergies to single out the allergens causing allergy symptoms.

If a very young child has nasal polyps, tests for genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, may be necessary.

# Is turbinate hypertrophy another name for nasal polyps?

No, nasal polyps and turbinate hypertrophy are not the same. Turbinates are the curled bones normally present in our body (located bilaterally inside the nose), that play an important role in heating and filtering the inhaled air. Nasal polyps are abnormal growths arising from the mucous lining of the nose or a paranasal sinus. However, the major risk factors for both turbinate hypertrophy and nasal polyps are recurrent nasal infections and allergies.

# Can nasal polyps be cancerous?

No, nasal polyps are not cancerous. They are benign growths.

# Do nasal polyps bleed?

Yes, nasal polyps can bleed, but not in every case.

# I snore at night, could it be from nasal polyps?

Snoring is a symptom of nasal polyps. But, snoring in isolation can be attributed to many other conditions. These include enlarged adenoids, deviated nasal septum, obesity leading to bulky throat tissue and elongated uvula. A CT scan or MRI will confirm whether the nasal polyps are causing snoring or other factors are in play.

# Can nasal polyps affect my ability to smell?

Yes, nasal polyps do reduce a person’s ability to smell.

# Can nasal polyps give me an ear infection or affect my hearing?

Yes, there are chances of an ear infection if a person has nasal polyps. Hearing can be affected too.

# What treatments are available for nasal polyps?

Antihistamines or antibiotics help keep allergies/sinus infections under check.

Spraying nasal steroids such as fluticasone, budesonide, and mometasone into the nose can reduce your runny nose and the sense of blockage. However, they only provide temporary relief. If you stop taking them, symptoms may quickly return. 

An oral or injectable steroid, such as prednisone, may be an option if nasal sprays or antibiotics alone don’t work. However, continued treatment with nasal steroid sprays or oral corticosteroids may lower your resistance to sinus infections. 

If your polyps are still unresponsive, your ENT might suggest Polypectomy – a surgical procedure to remove your polyps. Your doctor in addition may enlarge the openings to your sinus cavities for better drainage. This type of surgery is an outpatient procedure most of the time.

# Are there any complications post-surgery?

Treating nasal polyps, especially with surgery, can in some cases result in infection. Post-surgical nosebleeds are common. 

# Can nasal polyps recur post-surgery?

Yes, there are good chances of nasal polyps coming back after surgery. Surgery removes the nasal polyps, not the root cause behind their origin. The nasal infections and allergies that cause nasal polyps, if not addressed, can cause them to regrow. Complete treatment can only be obtained by treating the root cause with proper internal medication.

# My doctor has advised surgery for nasal polyps, is it safe to put it on hold and go for alternative medicines?

Since nasal polyps are benign growths, it’s absolutely safe to do so. Homoeopathy acts on the root cause and helps dissolve them without you going through any invasive procedure or surgery. The Homoeopathic line of treatment initially controls the symptoms of nasal polyps. In due course, the polyps start to shrink in size and ultimately dissolve.

# What are the potential complications of nasal polyps?

Potential complications include:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea. This is a potentially serious condition in which you stop and start breathing frequently during sleep.

  • Sinus infections. Nasal polyps can make you more susceptible to sinus infections that recur often.
  • Asthma flare-ups. Chronic sinusitis can worsen asthma.

How To Manage Your Nasal Polyps 

Knowing the allergens that cause nasal polyps and avoiding the ones one is susceptible to, is important.

  • Manage your allergies/asthma well. Follow your doctor’s recommendations. If your symptoms aren’t well controlled, talk to your doctor about changing your current treatment plan.
  • Stay away from nasal irritants such as dust, fine debris, strong odors, chemical fumes, cigarette smoking, and pollution.
  • Practice good hygiene by washing your hands regularly and thoroughly. It is one of the best ways to protect against bacterial and viral infections that can cause inflammation of the nasal passages and sinuses.

You may help reduce your chances of developing nasal polyps or having nasal polyps recur after treatment by following these preventive measures –

  • Humidify your home. Using a humidifier may help moisten your breathing passages, improve the flow of mucus from your sinuses, and help prevent blockages and inflammation. Clean the humidifier daily to prevent bacteria from growing.

  • Use a nasal rinse. Use a saline spray or nasal wash to rinse your nasal passages. This may improve mucus flow and remove allergens and other irritants. Over-the-counter saline sprays or nasal wash kits with devices, such as a neti pot or squeeze bottle are easy to administer for a rinse.

It is important to use water that’s distilled, sterile, previously boiled for a minute and cooled, or filtered using a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller to make the irrigation solution. Rinse the irrigation device after each use with the distilled, sterile, previously boiled, or filtered water and leave it open to air-dry.

Homoeopathic Treatment

While conventional medicine mostly stacks Nasal polyps in the basket of surgical cases, even after successful removal, they often return.  

Homoeopathy offers a conservative alternative by treating nasal polyps holistically, without any invasive procedures. These remedies, which are both natural and safe, set off the body’s own restorative processes and effect cure by regressing/shrinking the abnormal growth, thus lessening the symptoms over time. A well-directed constitutional homoeopathic treatment manages to prevent the recurrence too. 

Here are some of the top-notch remedies I’ve been using  for a little more than 3 decades:

1. Phosphorus: This homoeopathic medication is especially effective if you have nasal polyps that bleed. The remedy is found effective, in people who have a tall and slender build and tend to develop a thirst for very cold water as the polyp grows within them (remember homoeopathy focuses on unique individualizing symptoms because it gets them in clinical trials which are verified again n again). A blocked nose early in the morning is a sure sign that Phosphorus will work on you.

2. Lemna Minor: Is used where there is obstruction and loss of smell from nasal polyps. A putrid/foul smell inside the nose may also be felt. Thick, yellow-white mucopurulent discharge from the nose is another attending feature. It also treats swollen nasal turbinates in cases where nasal polyps worsen in wet weather. 

3. Calcarea Carbonica: Useful in people who are overweight and tend to catch a cold easily with the slightest change in weather. The remedy shows its seat of action, especially in left-sided nasal polyps.

4. Kali Nitricum: The symptoms guiding the use of this remedy in addition to right-sided nasal polyps are – a runny nose with nasal obstruction, sneezing, loss of smell and digging pain in nostrils.

5. Sanguinaria Canadensis: Primarily for right-sided nasal polyps that cause swelling of the nasal membrane with frequent sneezing, profuse watery nasal discharge and a plugged sensation in the nostrils.

6. Teucrium Marum: Has marked nasal blockage. A unique symptom is that the obstruction/blockage shifts to the side of the nose on which the person lies down. There is a loss of smell. The remedy is one of the best for ozaena – a chronic inflammation of the nasal mucosa resulting in a foul-smelling nasal discharge and atrophy of the nasal structures.

7. Allium Cepa: Is most suited for constant sneezing and watery discharge from the nose that is burning and acrid – like the one you get when you are chopping onions. The nasal discharge corrodes the upper lips. Some may experience a headache with a stopped-up nose or feel a lump at the root of the nose.

Homoeopathy not only controls the distressing symptoms arising from the obstruction but also works on eradicating the root cause of nasal polyps and eventually dissolves them.

Try Homoeopathy for a lasting cure of nasal polyps before opting to go under the knife.