Nasal polyps are common in people with cystic fibrosis, affecting between 10 to 50 percent. Polyps are small, sac-like growths of inflamed nasal mucosa (masses in the nose) caused by chronic inflammation in the nasal lining. Examined under a microscope, nasal polyps are essentially bags of tissue and fluid.
What causes nasal polyps?
The exact cause of nasal polyps is unknown but allergy, infections, and chronic congestion often play a key role.
What should I look for?
Most people with nasal polyps complain of nasal blockage, which affects both sides of the nose (not to the same extent). Other symptoms include runny nose, loss of sense of smell, facial pain, congestion, and nose bleeds (less common).
How are nasal polyps screened and diagnosed?
Diagnosing nasal polyps is generally straightforward – examining the patient, often with nasal endoscopes.
How are nasal polyps treated?
Polyps are often effectively treated with steroids or a simple surgical procedure (polypectomy). A polypectomy removes the polyps to relieve nasal obstruction and can take place in a specialist’s office if there are just a few, isolated polyps.
There are rare surgical risks including bleeding and impact to the eyes and brain. Major benefits are an enhanced sense of smell, decreased nasal/facial pain and congestion.
Surgery does not cure the original cause of polyps. Most specialists recommend treating the underlying congestion to decrease the chance polyps will recur. Some preventative suggestions include:
- Treatment with nasal and/or oral steroids to combat nasal inflammation
- Treatment with antihistamines to control allergies and/or antibiotics to control sinus infections
- Gentle flushing of the sinuses with saline (salt water) solution and postural drainage of the face as prescribed by a physiotherapist