Nasal Polyps: Care Instructions

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A nasal polyp is a lump of tissue that grows into the nasal passages. One or more polyps may block the nasal passages, making it hard for you to breathe. Nasal polyps also can reduce your sense of smell.

Your doctor may treat small polyps with nasal sprays or pills that contain corticosteroids. These are medicines that can reduce swelling. Nasal polyps can be a long-term problem. Surgery is sometimes needed to remove polyps.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • If you have asthma or allergies (or both), avoid pollen, dust, or other things to which you are allergic. Allergies make it harder to breathe.
  • Use saline (saltwater) nasal washes to help keep your nasal passages open and wash out mucus and allergens. You can buy saline nose washes at a grocery store or drugstore. Follow the instructions on the package. Or you can make your own at home. Add 1 teaspoon of non-iodized salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 2 cups of distilled or boiled and cooled water. Fill a squeeze bottle or neti pot with the nasal wash. Then put the tip into your nostril, and lean over the sink. With your mouth open, gently squirt the liquid. Repeat on the other side.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor if:

  • You have increased trouble breathing (more than a stuffy nose).
  • You have symptoms of a sinus infection, such as:
    • Pain and pressure in the face along with a stuffy or blocked nose.
    • Drainage from your nose or down the back of your throat.
    • A fever.
    • Tooth pain or a headache.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.