Polyps are small fleshy growths attached by a stalk to the surface they spring from. They can occur in different parts of the body, including the lining of the nose where, as you say, they affect the respiratory process. The nose is primarily a passage for air to enter the respiratory system. It also functions as an air-conditioning system so that air reaching the alveoli in the lungs (the end branches of the respiratory tree) is the same temperature as the body and has sufficient moisture so the alveoli don’t become dehydrated and unable to function properly. If the nasal tract is blocked by polyps or other factors (eg, a cold or sinus discharge), this system is affected and the mouth and throat dry up and feel sticky.
The air we inhale must also be filtered to remove particles. Smaller particles – pollen, dust, mites allergens are filtered by microscopic hairs called cilia in the moist mucus that covers the nasal lining. Large particles – sand, sawdust, small insects -are trapped in the chambers behind the nostrils. It’s uncertain how nasal polyps are caused, but since they are more common in people who have asthma or rhinitis (inflammation of the mucus lining of the nose and throat), one possibility is that the mucus lining of the nose is reacting to trapped allergens and particles. The body tries to expel them by producing mucus and sneezing, as in hay fever. If the allergy is chronic, rhinitis develops, with blocked nose and chronic congestion.
This long-term discharge of mucus under the external layer of cells makes the surface inflate like a water bed. As the trapped fluid grows, it forms polyps, which are tiny fluid-filled balloons. Although polyps are benign grounds (ie, not carcinogenic), they are annoying and can, as in your case, worsen in winter or during the hayfever season. Once formed they generally wont shrink unless treated.
Breathing through your nose is important for general wellbeing. It’s drought that the electromagnetic wave created by the to-and from passage of air molecules tones up the pituitary-hypothalamic area of the brain above the back of the nasal passage. This controls the body’s hormonal and immune functions, so a blocked nose makes you fed tired and unable to concentrate.
If polyps cant be seen by the naked eye, a doctor may ask for a nasal endoscopy (when a viewing instrument is inserted into the nasal tract) and/or a CT scan. The most common medical treatment is a corticosteroid spray, which shrinks the polyps over several weeks. Larger polyps may be removed by an endoscopic procedure, followed by a steroid spray or a course of oral corticosteroids.
I prefer to manage the allergies, which are the likely underlying cause. I send my patients to Dr Ray Choy of the Nightingale Allergy Clinic (teL 020 74362135), who uses kinesiology and potentised anti-allergic drops, to desensitise the body to allergens.
Additionally, I suggest the following:
- Reduce mucus production by avoiding cheese, milk yoghurt, ice cream, ice cubes, chilled drinks, yeast-containing foods, coffee, alcohol, mushrooms, spicy foods and excess sugar.
- Take one teaspoon of freshly juiced root ginger with a little manuka honey, once daily for a month, to help dry mucus and reduce allergic reactions.
- Sinus Oil : Put two drop in each nostril and try to sniff it up; this helps to decongest, the nasal tract and sinuses. Do this daily for two months.
- Lauq sepistan: half a teaspoonful twice daily for one month; alternatively, take Peppermint and Pipali Formula : four daily for three months to help dry up the excess mucus.
- Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a neti pot filled with lukewarm water. Breathing gently through your mouth, tilt your head to the left, insert the nozzle into the right nostril and slowly pour in the water, which will trickle down the right nostril and pour out of the left. When half the pot is empty, stop and tilt the head to the other side, repeating the routine. With large polyps, the water may not come out smoothly, but twin improve as you do this daily for two months. Blow your nose afterwards to dry the nostrils and practise a cleansing breath exercise: sit or sand comfortably, close your mouth and look straight ahead. Inhale fully through your nose, then exhale quickly, snapping your stomach in. Pause briefly, then inhale slowly. Repeat 25 times.