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What Are the Treatments for Sinus Polyps?

By Steve R.
Updated May 17, 2024
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Sinus polyps are tissues that develop in the inside of a person's nose, often as a result of continuous sinus infections or allergies. Typically, small nasal polyps will not cause any issues for a person. However, larger polyps may swell up and become sore, leading to nasal obstruction and trouble smelling. When an individual gets fed up with feeling uncomfortable, treatment options may include medications or surgery to shrink or eliminate the polyps completely.

A person of any age can develop polyps, but they generally are more common in adults. If an individual suspects he has polyps because of constant nasal stuffiness, loss of smell, or pain, he will need to be examined by an ear, nose, and throat physician to confirm a diagnosis of sinus polyps. The specialist will often use a small instrument called an endoscope to check a patient’s nose and sinuses. Also a computed tomography (CT) scan or biopsy may determine exactly where the polyps are located in the sinus cavity. An individual may be diagnosed with just one polyp or may have a clump of polyps.

The size and amount of polyps detected will play a role in determining treatment. If the polyps are causing severe pain, a person may need to take over-the-counter medicine to alleviate soreness. The initial treatment aims to decrease the size of the polyps. This can be done through the use of steroids. Oral steroids and nasal steroid sprays are often used together to shrink the polyps.

Since oral steroids may have negative effects, that treatment for sinus polyps may only be prescribed for about two weeks. However, the nasal spray that helps lower inflammation and enhance air flow will often be required for a person with sinus polyps for a much longer period. If an infection occurs, a patient will need to take antibiotics. Other treatment options may include the use of antihistamines to help curb allergies.

When medication does not prove effective in eliminating polyps, a person may opt for surgery. Generally, surgery requires the insertion of an endoscope and a device that is capable of removing soft tissue in the nostril. The procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis. After surgery, a patient will usually need to use a saltwater rinse to enhance the healing process.

Surgery generally helps to improve breathing and sense of smell for people with sinus polyps. While the procedure may be successful in getting rid of polyps, surgery does not ensure this noncancerous tissue won't grow back. After surgery, a person will need to see an ear, nose, and throat doctor for regular follow up appointments to make sure the polyps are held in check. Typically, a person will be on long-term medication after surgery to try to prevent the polyps from returning. If the polyps do return, a patient may need to begin treatment over again.

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