Sinus polyps are fleshy painless swellings that develop on the lining of the nasal passages also called sinuses. They become abnormal and develop swollen sac-like growth when they are inflamed. But what are sinuses?
Well, in a nutshell, sinuses are connected structures of air-filled cavities in the skull and inside the bones of your face that comprises of the upper part of the respiratory tract from the nose into your throat. The primary function of the sinuses is to produce mucus to keep your nasal passage moist to protect your nose from dirt and other pollutants. In addition, it also lightens the skull or improves your voices.
Are Sinus Polyps Dangerous?
Sinus polyp condition persists for 4 to 12 weeks. When you have the above-mentioned symptoms, it is highly recommended to consult your health care provider who will examine your nose and make the right diagnosis. Polyps are generally seen with the help of lighted instruments. Your doctor may also prescribe for a series of test to verify results such as
Nasal Endoscopy – This is carried out by passing a narrow tube fitted with a magnifying lens to conduct a detailed examination of your nose and sinuses. In the worst-case scenario of chronic inflammation, a minimally invasive procedure called functional endoscopic surgery is performed to improve the ventilation and drainage of the polys.
Imaging Studies – Images obtained through CT scan help the doctor to determine the severity and size of the polys. Also, it helps the doctor to know about the abnormalities or cancerous growth of the polyps
Allergy Tests – If the doctor thinks that allergy may be the contributing factor for nasal polyps then he might recommend for skin prick test. This can help the doctors determine the source for the inflammation. If skin tests not required then the doctor may recommend for a blood test.
Test For Cystic Fibrosis – This is generally carried for young children. (1)
A conventional blood test may also be recommended by your doctor.
Can Sinus Polyps Turn Into Cancer?
Nasal polyps are benign, non-cancerous inflammatory growths. They are most unlikely to turn into cancer. Only 1-2% of nasal polys have the chance of turning precancerous. There is a certain type of polyp called inverting papilloma which has like chances of changing precancerous. Papilloma is aggressive polyps that have the potential to break down the lining on the sides of the nose. This is often captured in a CT scan and treated accordingly. However, the chances of polyps turning cancerous are certainly very low.
When an individual has problems with asthma, allergies or some immune disorders, nasal or sinus polyps occur. They generally appear as teardrops or grapes. Polyps vary in size and are yellowish-brown or pink in color. When they are small, they do not produce any symptoms however, when it is inflamed it can grow large enough to block the nasal cavity. They can grow either in one or both the nostrils at the same time. This can result in troubled breathing and impact the patient’s sense of smell considerably.
Generally, males are more affected by sinus polys than females and it usually affects young and middle-aged adults.
How Do You Detect Sinus Polyps?
Nasal polyps are often inter-related to chronic infections, allergic rhinitis, asthma, drug allergy, and cystic fibrosis. Some of the common signs and symptoms of nasal polyps include
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose but chronic
- Stuffy or blocked nose and have difficulties in breathing
- Decreased or absence of the sense of smell
- Recurrent nosebleeds
- Heaviness in your facial muscles and forehead
- In worst cases, it causes sleep apnea (serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts) (2)
Nasal polyps are not dangerous and are basically treated through steroid tablets or sprays, polypectomy surgery for larger polys and other medications. Nevertheless, this condition can be prevented with proper hygiene and following doctors’ recommendations.
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