lady having trouble smelling with nasal polyps

Difficulty breathing through your nose. 

Trouble smelling. 

Problems with your sense of taste. 

These are some of the bothersome effects of nasal polyps, and if you have them, it’s time to seek effective nasal polyp treatment.

What Are Nasal Polyps?

If that gorgeous bouquet of red roses doesn’t smell as sweet as you remember—or if you can’t seem to smell them at all-- then the culprit may be a grayish, grape-shaped growth in your nose called a nasal polyp.

Not only do these polyps dampen your sense of smell, but they also make it difficult to breathe. Even worse, because your sense of smell is closely connected to your sense of taste, not being able to enjoy the aroma of your grandma’s homemade chili means you’ll likely not be able to enjoy its flavor to the fullest.

These growths are extremely common, affecting roughly 30 percent of Americans.  It’s not unusual for nasal polyps to be a contributing factor to rhinosinusitis and other similar disorders. In fact, many people have chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine

While these polyps can form anywhere in your nose or sinuses, they’re most commonly found where the sinuses are near your nose, cheekbones or eyes. 

How to Tell If You Have Nasal Polyps

Sometimes, there aren’t any symptoms, particularly if the polyps are small. 

When they become so large that they block the nasal passages, that’s when they become problematic. They can cause symptoms including:

  • Little or no sense of smell
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Excessive mucus
  • Constant runny nose
  • Sleep apnea
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Facial pressure or pain
  • Loss of sense of taste

Sinus problems due to polyps are most common in young and middle-aged adults.  It’s important to receive treatment from your local ENT because, if they become infected, the infection can spread to the eye sockets or even the brain.

If your child has symptoms of nasal polyps, it’s very important to take him or her to an ENT, preferably one who, like Raleigh Capitol ENT, specializes in treating children.  

Sometimes, these growths may indicate cystic fibrosis, a serious genetic condition that damages the lungs and makes breathing difficult. A simple, painless test can determine whether or not your child has cystic fibrosis.

How Do You Detect Nasal Polyps?

One of our ear, nose and throat physicians will take a careful evaluation of your symptoms to see if you have any that are indicative of nasal polyps. Sometimes they can only be detected through a nasal endoscopy or a CT scan. 

Of course, the symptoms of nasal polyps can also mimic other conditions, such as inflammation due to allergies. In certain cases, we may need to perform allergy testing to rule out other causes of your problems. 

We may suggest testing for cystic fibrosis, particularly if you have a child who has nasal polyps. 

How Are Nasal Polyps Diagnosed?

Your ENT specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the ear, nose and throat and therefore is in a unique position to treat these growths and the complications that they cause. 

First, your Raleigh Capitol ENT physician will evaluate your symptoms and examine your nose. He or she may use a thin, flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope to see inside your small nose and sinus passages.

If further examination is necessary, your ENT may perform a CT scan. Through this procedure, your doctor will have detailed images of your nose and sinuses, which will help him or her pinpoint the exact location of any nasal polyps and create a course of treatment.

We’re pleased to offer a new nasal polyp treatment that is both safe and effective, particularly in those who also have chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps.

How to Get Rid of Nasal Polyps: The Latest Treatment

If they aren’t causing any problems, then no nasal polyp treatment is needed as long as they don’t grow larger. 

But if you really need to know how to get rid of nasal polyps, troublesome polyps are treated through a round of medication consisting of antibiotics, steroids or nasal sprays.  If these are not effective, then surgery may be needed.

This situation is often complicated because many adults who have polyps also have the signs and symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps

Unfortunately, while medicine can help with nasal polyps, it often does not get rid of them. However, there is a new treatment that may change that.

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of dupilumab to treat those with nasal polyps and accompanying chronic rhinosinusitis. This reduces the need for steroids or surgery, presenting a better treatment option for patients.

Dupilumab is given by injection. As a result of treatment, there was a significant reduction in the size of the nasal polyps and an improvement in nasal congestion. In many cases, the patients who used dupilumab reported that their ability to smell improved. In addition, they also required fewer oral steroids and less nasal polyp surgery. 

At Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose and Throat, we’re pleased to be able to offer this new treatment to our patients.

How to Remove Nasal Polyps

Large polyps that hinder your breathing may have to be removed by endoscopic sinus surgery. In most cases, patients are able to return home the same day.  With appropriate post-op management (including steroids, nasal sprays, newer treatments and steroid irrigations), polyps can be controlled.

Are Nasal Polyps Dangerous?

While they are annoying and cause troublesome symptoms, nasal polyps are rarely dangerous as long as they are not infected or seriously inflamed. Fortunately, they are almost always benign (non-cancerous).  

In some cases, they can cause sleep apnea by blocking the nasal passages. Sleep apnea can put you at greater risk for diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and stroke.

What Do Nasal Polyps Feel Like?

Because they are soft and painless, you will likely not feel them if they are small. If they become large, you’ll find that they are not painful to the touch and may feel like a grape.   Larger polyps will cause difficulty breathing through your nose and can create a feeling of pressure or fullness on your face.

Can Nasal Polyps Return?

In some cases, nasal polyps will return, even after they are removed surgically. This is because polyps have a chronic, inflammatory nature. 

While many patients may need revision sinus surgery periodically to prevent the polyps from reoccurring, by working closely with our ear nose and throat doctors and continuing with this new nasal polyp treatment, the need for this surgery is reduced. 

What Causes Nasal Polyps?

Scientists are still studying why nasal polyps seem to appear in some people and not in others. However, researchers believe it may have to do with those who have different immune system responses. They may also have a different chemical marker in their mucous membranes.

Nasal polyps are also more common among young adults and those who are middle-aged. They also tend to run in families.

If you’re not getting enough vitamin D or if you don’t have enough of this vitamin in your bloodstream, you may be at a higher risk of developing nasal polyps.

Can Nasal Polyps Be Prevented?

While polyps may not be preventable, there are several safeguards you can put into place to minimize your chances of getting them. If you do have them, these tips will keep them from getting worse or infected:

  • Irrigate your sinuses.
  • Keep your allergies and asthma under control. Your ENT will work with you to help manage your symptoms.
  • Keep your home free of irritants such as cigarette smoke and dust. It may help to use a humidifier.
  • Wash your hands regularly. This helps prevent both bacterial and viral infections.

We Utilize the Most Advanced Treatments to Help Our Patients

The world of medicine changes almost daily. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of the latest developments, breakthroughs and studies. 

Our ear, nose and throat physicians are well-versed in the latest, effective treatment for our patients. We take pride in providing state-of-the-art, compassionate care for both children and adults. 

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, contact us for an appointment to see if this new treatment for nasal polyps is right for you.


Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose, and Throat is the area's premier physician-owned ENT practice with seven convenient locations throughout Wake County. Our board-certified physicians have extensive experience in treating both common and complex cases to help adults and children alike. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us.