What are nasal polyps?
Nasal polyps are soft, noncancerous growths that grow on the lining inside your nose or sinuses. These growths are typically round or teardrop-shaped and are usually grayish in color. They are sometimes described as “watery balloons.”
Nasal polyps are not dangerous and are fairly common in adults. (It is estimated they are presesent in 4% of adults.) Small polyps can be symptomless and you might not even realize you have them. However, large polyps can impair your quality of life by making it more difficult to breathe, impairing your sense of smell and causing chronic nasal and post-nasal drainage. In fact, there is a subtype of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) called CRS with nasal polyposis. Other medical conditions associated with nasal polyposis include allergic rhinitis, asthma, Aspirin sensitivity, bronchiectasis, and cystic fibrosis.
How are nasal polyps treated?
Successful treatment of nasal polyposis requires a combination of surgical and medical therapy. Even after surgical removal, polyps can grow back so proper follow up care is critial. To avoid reccurence it is important to address allergies and other factors that contribute to sinus and nasal inflammation. Sinus irrigations or nasal sprays with steroids such as Budesonide or Mometasone are helpful. Steroid-releasing implants such as Propel® and SINUVA™ may also be beneficial. These treatments are nonsurgical and can be performed in the office after numbing the nose with a spray. The implants release medicine to shrink polyps for weeks to months at a time which improves congestion, drainage, and sense of smell. Interestingly, some scientific data indicate that nasal polyps can be caused by/grow back quicker if you have low levels of Vitamin D in your body.
How does vitamin D deficiency affect nasal polyps?
Even though your body produces Vitamin D with exposure to sunlight certain certain individuals may still become deficient in this key vitamin. One study found that low blood levels of Vitamin D3 (which is also known as cholecalciferol) correlated with more severe nasal polyposis. Another research paper hypthosized that there is a link between Vitamin D Receptor gene expression and the growth of nasal polyps.
Good nutrition is always important and that’s especially true in the case of vitamin D deficiency. If your body isn’t making enough of the vitamin from exposure to sunlight then you can offset low levels by consuming food rich in Vitamin D such as dairy products, meat, fish, and eggs. If you decide to use milk to supplement your dietary levels of Vitamin D be sure to choose a product that is fortified with Vitamin D. (With the exception of butter, dairy products are low in vitamin D unless they are fortified.) You should also consult your doctor in case additional vitamin supplementation is required.
What does this mean for you?
If you have nasal obstruction, decreased or no sense of smell, nasal drainage, post-nasal drip, frequent sinus infections, it’s a good idea to get checked for nasal polyps. At Advanced Sinus and Allergy Center in Park Ridge, Illinois, Dr. Nadia Caballero provides advanced surgical and non-surgical therapies to treat nasal polyps. To learn more, call the office or schedule a consultation online today.
- Vitamin D₃ deficiency and its association with nasal polyposis in patients with cystic fibrosis and patients with chronic rhinosinusitis., American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy 2017 Nov 1;31(6):395-400
- Is Nasal Polyposis Related to Levels of Serum Vitamin D and Vitamin D Receptor Gene Expression? Med Sci Monit. 2016; 22: 4636–4643.
- Natural Vitamin D Content in Animal Products, Adv Nutr. 2013 Jul; 4(4): 453–462.