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Treating Nasal Polyps

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7 Nasal Polyps Mistakes to Avoid

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
young woman with hand on chest and concern on face and trouble breathing

Many people, especially those with allergy issues or problems leading to sinus inflammation, eventually develop nasal polyps. These soft, painless growths occur on the lining of the nasal passages or sinuses. Fortunately, these growths are benign, which means they aren’t cancerous. However, nasal polyps can still cause problems. You may have difficulty breathing normally through your nose, or you may lose your sense of smell. Some people with nasal polyps experience frequent sinus infections, near-constant stuffiness, and drainage from the nose. But you don’t have to let nasal polyps rule your life. Managing nasal polyps starts with avoiding common treatment mistakes and working with your doctor. Together, you can make living with nasal polyps more comfortable.

1. Skipping your medications.

Your doctor may prescribe several medications, such as steroids or biologics, to help manage nasal polyps. Not getting your prescriptions filled, or not taking your medications as directed, does little to help relieve inflammation and discomfort. In some serious cases, polyps cause infections which must be treated with antibiotics. Not taking these pills as prescribed can lead to complications.

2. Breathing dry air.

Humidity is essential for moistening breathing passages, improving mucus flow from your sinuses, and preventing blockages and reducing inflammation. If you live in a dry environment, it can be extremely beneficial to use a humidifier to help make breathing easier.

3. Ignoring breathing problems.

In some cases, nasal polyps may grow so large that they interfere with breathing, leading to complications like obstructive sleep apnea, frequent asthma flare-ups, or sinus infections. If you have difficulty breathing, especially at night, it’s important to see your doctor right away. Left unchecked, issues like obstructive sleep apnea can lead to serious problems like cardiovascular issues, stroke, and eye problems.

4. Living with nasal irritants.

Certain airborne substances are more likely to irritate your nose and sinuses, leading to more inflammation and swelling. If you have nasal polyps, be sure to avoid common irritants such as chemical fumes, dust, and tobacco smoke.

5. Not using nasal rinses.

Nasal rinses help flush out your nasal passages, removing allergens and nasal irritants. Your doctor may recommend using products like these to help keep your nose clean and your airways open.

6. Practicing poor hygiene.

In some cases, certain types of bacteria or viruses cause infections in the nose and sinuses. These infections can increase swelling and inflammation, and they often result from poor hygiene practices. Be sure to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly to help prevent infections.

7. Trying to remove polyps yourself.

If your doctor thinks you may benefit from surgery to remove polyps, don’t take matters into your own hands and try to remove them yourself. Many blood vessels are located in and around your nose, and trying to remove nasal polyps at home may cause excessive bleeding or infection. Having polyps removed professionally is safer and usually occurs as an outpatient procedure.

Nasal polyps can be irritating, but working with your doctor to develop a treatment plan is the best way to manage them. If you have nasal polyps, avoiding common treatment mistakes can help you recover faster, breathe easier, and have a higher quality of life.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2022 Oct 30
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