are fleshy swellings, or polypoidal masses that develop in the lining of the nose and paranasal sinuses (air-filled spaces, communicating with the nasal cavity, within the bones of the skull and face). They are non-cancerous growths.
Polyps vary in size; they may be yellowish brown or pink and are shaped like teardrops. As they grow they eventually look like grapes on a stem.
Polyps usually grow in both nostrils; they can also grow on their own or in clusters. Polyps in just one side of the nose are not common.
Large polyps and/or clusters can cause breathing difficulties. They can affect the patient’s sense of smell. They may block the sinuses and cause frequent infections and other problems.
According to the National Health Service (NHS), UK, nasal polyps affect between 1 and 20 people out of every 1,000. They are about four times as common in males as females. People who develop them tend to do so after the age of 40. Individuals with asthma, frequent sinus infections and allergies are more likely to develop nasal polyps. Some children with cystic fibrosis may develop nasal polyps.
According to Medilexicon’s medical dictionary: A nasal polyp is…
“an inflammatory or allergic polyp, arising from the ostium or cavity of one of the paranasal sinuses, which projects into the nasal cavity.”
What are the signs and symptoms of nasal polyps?
A symptom is something the patient feels and reports, while a sign is something other people, such as the doctor detect. For example, pain may be a symptom while a rash may be a sign.
Individuals with nasal polyps tend to have chronic inflammation of the lining of the nasal passages and sinuses (chronic sinusitis). If there are clusters or large polyps the patient’s nasal passages and sinuses may be obstructed. People with small nasal polyps may have no signs or symptoms. The following signs and symptoms are typically present:
- Runny nose – this may be permanent, with the patient feeling as if he/she always has a cold.
- Persistent stuffy or blocked nose – in some cases the patient may find it hard to breathe through the nose. There may be sleeping problems.
- Postnasal drip – a feeling of mucus continually running down the back of the throat.
- Either no sense of smell or poor sense of smell – this may not improve after polyps are treated
- Poor sense of taste – this may not improve after polyps are treated.
- Pain in the face
- Itchiness around the eyes
- Obstructive sleep apnea – in severe cases. This is a potentially serious condition; the patient stops breathing during sleep.
- Double vision – in severe cases. More likely to occur if the patient has allergic fungal sinusitis or cystic fibrosis.
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