Sinus polyps are painless and benign sac-like growths which hang down into the nasal cavity. It is unknown what causes sinus polyps, but they are strongly associated with people with asthma, an allergy to aspirin or yellow dye, or an allergic reaction to airborne fungi. The most common sinus polyp symptoms are an impaired sense of smell, prolonged feeling of stuffiness, a runny nose, and post-nasal drip. Other associated sinus polyp symptoms are a diminished sense of taste, snoring, mouth breathing, and itching around the eyes. Sinus polyps are first treated with corticosteroids and, when this fails, with surgery.
Small sinus polyps are typically asymptomatic, and most people do not even know when they have one. When they enlarge and obstruct the nasal cavity, the most common sinus polyp symptoms are a decrease in or loss of the sense of smell, a long-term feeling of stuffiness, and a runny nose with postnasal drip. Other sinus polyp symptoms include a loss of the sense of taste, snoring, mouth breathing, and itching around the eyes. Headaches, pain or a feeling of pressure in the face, and pain in the upper teeth are other symptoms associated with sinus polyps, but these symptoms usually only occur when the sinus polyp has caused drainage build-up and produced a sinus infection.
Large nasal polyps rarely require immediate medical attention. The exception to this is if the normal sinus polyp symptoms suddenly worsen and there is difficulty breathing, swelling around the eyes, eye problems such as double vision, difficulty seeing, restricted eye movement, or an intense headache along with a high fever. When these sinus polyp symptoms occur, a doctor should be seen without delay. The presence of these types of symptoms signal a severe allergic reaction complicated by the nasal polyps or an infection caused by the blocked drainage of the sinuses.
The first course of treatment for nasal polyps is with corticosteroids, but if this does not shrink or eliminate the polyps, then surgery is performed. When used to treat nasal polyps, the corticosteroids are typically given as a nasal spray, but they can also be taken as a pill or an injection. An oral steroid is sometimes prescribed in conjunction with a nasal spray. If treatment with steroids fails, the polyp is removed using one of two fairly simple, outpatient surgeries. Nasal polyps can be removed either by using a microdebrider, a thin tool which can both cut and suction up the dissected tissue, or with endoscopic surgery to remove hard-to-reach nasal polyps.