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What Are Nasal Polyps?

nasal polyps definition Houston

I can be kind of picky.

Those who know me know that I can be a little too judgmental when it comes to the way people act. I kind of take things like etiquette, personal integrity and most of all hygiene very seriously. So when I see someone digging for gold with their finger an inch up their nostril I have a very obvious physical reaction. I know, what do I care right? Listen, I’m working on it!

I’m pretty sure that habit was scolded out of me when I was a child so I can almost let it pass when I see a kid excavating away. In the morning though, when I’m practically sleepwalking and completely decaffeinated riding the train to work and I see someone twice my age deep core drilling in the seat across from me, it makes me recoil with terror. It’s not because it’s wrong – it’s the lack of thought about what’s on the finger. It’s a matter of hygiene.

It turns out that our noses are very sensitive to contaminants and damage. The insides of our nostrils can get inflamed, infected and even diseased rather easily. There are a lot of people out there who suffer from nasal polyps through no fault of their own. It can be the result of a stimulus (like a dirty finger) or it can be something you’re predisposed to. What are nasal polyps and why on Earth do they exist?

“I’ve been slimed.”

Nasal polyps are fleshy inflammations which grow on the inside of the nose or in sinuses. They can be small and grow on their own or be larger in bunches. They sort of look like a grape without its skin. Unlike other polyps, these are non-cancerous.

While they can affect people of all ages they’re far more common in adults over 40. They’re risky to leave untreated if they recur often and pretty dicey to remove so it’s important to take them seriously.

Right on the nose.

The inside of our nose is a weird place. Our nostrils are lined with mucous membranes which work together with little hairs called cilia to trap bacteria and contaminants. These filters give air a safe way to get to the lungs. Naturally, having these airways clear and healthy is important. A nasal polyp throws a wrench into those gears by blocking the nasal passage with swelling.

Not only does this make it tough to breathe but it actually changes the shape of your nose! As the polyp grows it can shift the bones in your nose, causing a deformation. Now not only do you have a polyp problem but you might have to consider whether you’re willing to live with your unplanned nose job.

My, how big you’ve gotten!

There’s a whole slew of reasons for why and how nasal polyps can form. Asthma, allergies or people prone to sinus infections are more likely to have them. Several studies have also linked children with cystic fibrosis to nasal polyp growth as well. In fact, the NCBI estimates that nasal polyps manifest in up to 20% of these children. Other reasons why polyps can grow include:

  • Allergy to aspirin
  • Allergy to yellow dyes
  • Allergic fungal sinusitis
  • Churg-Strauss syndrome
  • Sinus infections
  • Foreign bodies in the nose

Now that we understand what nasal polyps are and why they grow, maybe we can figure out how to reduce those risks.

Sniffing out the truth.

It can be very tough to live with nasal polyps and horrifying to be faced with the prospect of having them recur regularly. Naturally someone who suffers from them would know what could be done to keep from having uninvited guests in your nose be a regular thing.

Over at the polyp-focused blog fessisfun, blogger Brett Craig has shared what living with constant nasal polyps is like. You’ll be able to see fellow sufferers comment with their stories and read some handy tips to consider:

  • Environment: Have you considered your environment? There may be a chance that something in your immediate vicinity can be causing the aggravation. Humidity, different types of mold or other factors could be affecting you.
  • Your immune system: By taking care of yourself, you could possibly avoid this situation altogether. Being around sick people or having a compromised immune system can open you up to infection.

With all that said, sometimes being careful and informed isn’t enough. There are a whole mess of symptoms and cures we haven’t touched on yet. If your breathing and health have become really affected by nasal polyps, you need to take things one step further.

Bring in the cavalry!

Handling nasal polyps on your own is not wise. I know, we live in the 21st century with tons of information right at our fingertips. An afternoon’s worth of reading can make you feel like an expert but do you really want to mess around with something that affects your sense of smell and breathing?

Please, before you go taking a pair of pliers into your nostril (sad but true story), contact a professional. They can give you a better idea of what’s really going on in there and save you a lot of painful poking around.

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