Nasal polyps 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.
Scientists don't yet fully understand what causes nasal polyps. It's not clear why some people develop chronic inflammation or why ongoing inflammation triggers polyp formation in some people and not in others. The inflammation occurs in the fluid producing lining (mucous membrane) of your nose and sinuses. There's some evidence that people who develop polyps have a different immune system response and different chemical markers in their mucous membranes than do those who don't develop polyps.
Nasal polyps can form at any age, but they're most common in young and middle-aged adults. Nasal polyps may form anywhere in your sinuses or nasal passages, but they appear most often in an area where sinuses near your eyes, nose and cheekbones all drain through winding passages into your nose (ostiomeatal complex).
Nasal polyps are associated with inflammation of the lining of your nasal passages and sinuses that lasts more than 12 weeks (chronic rhino sinusitis, also known as chronic sinusitis). However, it's possible - and even somewhat more likely - to have chronic sinusitis without nasal polyps. Nasal polyps themselves are soft and lack sensation, so if they're small you may not be aware you have them. Multiple growths or a large polyp may block your nasal passages and sinuses.
Common signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps include:
- A runny nose
- Postnasal drip
- Loss of sense of taste
- Pain in your upper teeth
- Persistent stuffiness
- Decreased or absent sense of smell
- Facial pain or headache
- A sense of pressure over your forehead and face
- Itching around your eyes
Any condition that triggers chronic inflammation in your nasal passages or sinuses, such as infections or allergies, may increase your risk of developing nasal polyps.
Conditions often associated with nasal polyps include:
- Asthma, a disease that causes overall airway inflammation and constriction
- An allergy-like response to aspirin or to pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen (Aleve)
- Allergic fungal sinusitis, an allergy to airborne fungi
- Cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that results in the production and secretion of abnormally thick, sticky fluids, including thick mucus from nasal and sinus membranes
- Churg-Strauss syndrome, a rare disease that causes the inflammation of blood vessels
Nasal polyps can cause complications because they block normal airflow and fluid drainage, and also because of the chronic inflammation underlying their development.
Potential complications include:
- Obstructive sleep apnea. In this potentially serious condition, you stop and start breathing frequently during sleep.
- Asthma flare-ups. Chronic rhino sinusitis can trigger asthma attacks.
- Sinus infections. Nasal polyps can make you more susceptible to sinus infections that recur often or become chronic.
- Spread of infection to your eye socket If an infection spreads to your eye socket, it can cause swelling or bulging of your eye, inability to move your eye, reduced vision or even blindness that can become permanent.
- Meningitis. Infection can also spread to the membranes and fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord.
- Aneurysms or blood clots. Infection can cause problems in the veins surrounding the sinuses, interfering with the blood supply to parts of your brain and putting you at risk of a stroke.
Homeopathy is strongly recommended for management of nasal polyps, especially when they are small in size. Timely administered homoeopathy medicines help avoid surgery and its inherent complications. Moreover, it is very common for the condition to recur even after surgery. Homoeopathy also has preventive role to offer, by which chance of recurrence is minimized.
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