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Nasal Polyps

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Medical Treatments for Nasal Polyps

If you suspect that you have nasal polyps, your doctor can usually diagnose them with a nasal endoscope, a tool with a magnifying lens or camera that provides a detailed view of your nose and sinuses. In some cases, your doctor may order additional tests or perform a biopsy of the polyp to ensure that it's not cancerous.

The first-line treatment for nasal polyps is a nasal corticosteroid spray. In many cases, such treatment can shrink or even eliminate nasal polyps. In other cases, a one-week tapered course of oral corticosteroids such as prednisone may be necessary.

Unfortunately, nasal polyps tend to recur if the underlying irritation, allergy, or infection isn't adequately controlled. So, it may be necessary to continue using a corticosteroid spray to prevent the nasal polyps from returning and undergo periodic medical examinations with a nasal endoscope.

In general, medications such as antihistamines and decongestants are of minimal value in managing nasal polyps. In some cases, however, your doctor may order antihistamines to help control allergies, or a course of antibiotics to control an underlying infection before initiating the use of corticosteroid therapy.

Surgical Treatments for Nasal Polyps

Sometimes, nasal polyps are so large and obstructive that corticosteroid nasal sprays are ineffective. In such cases, surgery can be an effective option.

Surgical procedures are usually performed endoscopically, with a small nasal telescope that removes nasal polyps while preserving normal tissue. Most often, these procedures are performed at an ambulatory surgery center on an outpatient basis, where you can go home the same day as the surgery.

Although surgery is associated with significant improvement in most patients after 18 months, it may be less effective in patients who have nasal polyps and asthma or in patients who have nasal polyps, asthma, and aspirin sensitivity. But ongoing management with medication can help such patients achieve better asthma control and sense of smell while relieving breathing difficulties and facial pressure.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on September 05, 2012
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