Diagnosing Nasal Polyps: What to Expect During Your ENT Appointment

Nasal polyps are swellings in the lining of the nose often linked to allergies or infections, although their exact cause is not always clear. They can cause a variety of symptoms, including a blocked nose, reduced sense of smell, sneezing, a runny nose, and postnasal drip. Diagnosing nasal polyps accurately is crucial for effective treatment. Here’s what you can expect during your ENT appointment.

Initial consultation

Your journey to diagnosis begins with a detailed discussion with your ENT specialist. They will ask about your symptoms, including the severity and duration of your nasal congestion, sense of smell, and any accompanying issues like nose bleeds or sinus infections. Providing a thorough medical history is essential, as it helps the specialist understand any underlying conditions that could contribute to the development of nasal polyps.

Physical examination

Following the initial consultation, the ENT specialist will perform a physical examination of your nasal passages. Using a nasal speculum and a headlight, the doctor will look inside your nose to check for any visible polyps or signs of inflammation. This examination is usually quick and painless, giving the specialist a preliminary idea of the condition of your nasal passages.

Nasal endoscopy

For a more detailed examination, a nasal endoscopy may be performed. This involves inserting a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera (endoscope) into your nostrils. The endoscope provides a clear, magnified view of the nasal passages and sinuses, allowing the specialist to accurately assess the size and location of the polyps. The procedure is minimally invasive and usually done in the consulting room under local anaesthesia to minimise discomfort.

Allergy Testing

Since most nasal polyps are associated with allergies, identifying potential triggers is a critical part of the diagnostic process. The specialist may recommend allergy testing to pinpoint specific allergens contributing to your symptoms. Understanding your allergies can help in tailoring a more effective treatment plan and managing your condition better.

Treatment options: from medication to surgery

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the specialist will discuss treatment options. Initial treatment usually involves nasal sprays, drops, or steroids to reduce the size of the polyps and alleviate symptoms. If these treatments do not provide sufficient relief, or if the polyps cause significant issues like nose bleeds or severe obstruction, surgery may be recommended.

Endoscopic sinus surgery is the preferred surgical method for removing nasal polyps. This precise procedure involves using an endoscope to remove the polyps and open up the sinuses, improving ventilation and reducing the likelihood of recurrence.

Follow-up care

Regular follow-up appointments are essential to monitor your condition and adjust treatment as needed. Managing nasal polyps is often a long-term process, and ongoing care is crucial to maintaining symptom relief and preventing recurrence.

Diagnosing nasal polyps involves a combination of thorough medical history, physical examination, nasal endoscopy, imaging studies, and possibly allergy testing. With a confirmed diagnosis, your ENT specialist can recommend the most effective treatment plan to help you breathe easier and improve your quality of life. 

If you suspect you have nasal polyps, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with Mr Wale Olarinde, an experienced ear, nose and throat, head and neck Surgeon at ENT Sheffield, for expert care and guidance.