Treating Moderate to Severe Nasal Polyps Without Surgery
Nasal polyps are noncancerous growths that hang like grapes in the lining of your nasal passages and sinuses. Although they’re painless, they can cause inflammation and breathing problems, so it’s important to treat them. If you aren’t pursuing treatment for nasal polyps because you’re afraid of sinus surgery, there’s good news. Many forms of non-surgical nasal polyps treatment are available to open your airways, reduce blockage, help you breathe easier, and allow you to enjoy life more fully. Learn about conventional options and newer approaches to these growths in your nose or sinuses.
If you’ve been diagnosed with nasal polyps, your healthcare team will likely try the following traditional non-surgical treatments one at a time, in the order listed here, before even considering surgery:
- Saline nasal rinse
- Corticosteroids taken by mouth short-term to reduce swelling
- Corticosteroid nasal spray or rinse used longer-term
- Aspirin desensitization for those who have nasal polyps, sinusitis, and aspirin sensitivity–a condition known as aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD), ASA triad, or Samter’s Triad
Corticosteroids taken by mouth reduce swelling and ease symptoms quickly, but it’s not safe to take them every day. They’re usually prescribed by doctors for short periods three or four times a year, if needed. Taking oral corticosteroids for long periods of time could cause high blood pressure, cataracts, or diabetes.
In 2019, the first biologic treatment for chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps (CRSwNP), was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Rhinosinusitis” is more commonly known as sinusitis. Biologics are newer medications derived from living organisms that can get to the root of inflammation to ease symptoms. The treatment, dupilumab (Dupixent), suppresses specific chemicals in the body that promote the inflammation that causes nasal polyps symptoms. Dupilumab is given by injection every two weeks. The injection can be given in a doctor’s office, or you can give it to yourself at home. Your doctor may recommend adding dupilumab to your treatment plan if corticosteroids alone aren’t providing enough relief. Keep in mind that every treatment has benefits and side effects, and it’s important to weigh them with your doctor.
If none of the other treatments have helped, it might be time for sinus surgery. But it may ease your mind to know that it’s usually minimally invasive. Outpatient endoscopic sinus surgery is the most common procedure to treat nasal polyps. A surgeon uses a thin tube with a camera to locate and remove nasal polyps and open the sinus passages.
Every case of nasal polyps is different, and your doctor will work with you to determine the right treatment plan, whether that means trying established treatments, new therapies, or ultimately sinus surgery. Talk with your doctor about all the options available to you.