Treating Nasal Polyps

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PHYSICIAN VOICES
4 ENT Doctor Tips for People With Nasal Polyps

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adult male patient describing his nasal problem to a physician
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Nasal polyps are small growths on the lining of the sinus and nasal passages, but they can cause significant problems. People with nasal polyps can experience reduced sense of smell, nasal congestion, runny nose, facial pain or pressure, postnasal drip, and difficulty breathing through a blocked airway. The good news is we have a great selection of treatment strategies, including medication and surgery, that can improve symptoms and get patients back to their normal lives. In my years practicing as an otolaryngologist, or ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT), I’ve learned firsthand that nasal polyps affect everyone differently. Here are some beneficial tips for sinus patients:

1. Don’t settle for your symptoms.

Most of the time, patients come to see me because symptoms from nasal polyps are impacting their quality of life. They’re not usually dangerous or life-threatening, but treatment can make a tremendous difference. If nasal polyps go untreated, they can grow over time and severely block or obstruct the nasal passages. This can lead to uncomfortable, painful symptoms and recurrent infections, and can affect one’s work productivity and sleep, also paired with social and emotional consequences.

Many of the people I treat have been suffering for years; they become used to living with their symptoms. It’s important to emphasize we have multiple treatment options that can dramatically improve your quality of life. It is not necessary to suffer or settle.

2. If you’re having problems, reach out.

Once your doctor has determined your treatment plan, patients should pay attention to their symptoms and keep their healthcare team up to date. I consider my patients active partners in their care. We’re working together to find what works. That’s why it’s crucial for patients to be proactive with their physician about their goals. If you’re not feeling better or if you feel like the treatment isn’t helping, make an appointment with your ENT, even if it’s sooner than your scheduled follow-up. In order to find the right treatment plan, you should discuss your symptoms with your doctor to understand what other options are available. There are different treatments we can tailor to each person, so there’s no reason to wait any longer than necessary to find relief. It’s better to make changes sooner than later to prevent polyps from worsening.

3. Avoid irritants.

Managing allergies and any kind of coexisting or contributing conditions like asthma is very important. Part of that means avoiding nasal irritants. Often, patients tell me about certain irritants that cause them problems, and these are different for everyone; however, tobacco smoke is a commonly reported nasal irritant. Dryness can also irritate the nose, so humidifying your home can help, particularly if you live in a dry environment. Using a nasal rinse or sinus irrigation on a regular basis is also beneficial to keep your nasal passages clear and clean.

4. Stay positive.

Nasal polyps can be a frustrating condition for patients, because they often affect quality of life quite severely. In some cases, patients will need to try more than one treatment, and polyps can return after some time. But patients should have confidence in the fact that they can find relief in the short- and long-term. We have proven strategies to improve quality of life, and there have been many impactful innovations in the realm of rhinology and sinus care. Even if it takes a few different therapies, eventually patients should see their symptoms significantly improve over time. My goal is to get patients to a place where they can breathe more easily, their sense of smell is better, sinus infections are reduced, they feel less fatigued, and they’re much more productive without constantly thinking about their sinus problems. When a patient’s polyps are controlled and they get their quality of life back, that, in my mind, is success.

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THIS CONTENT DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. This content is provided for informational purposes and reflects the opinions of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional regarding your health. If you think you may have a medical emergency, contact your doctor immediately or call 911.