Harvard Health Letter

Ask the doctor: Oral steroids for nasal polyps

Q. I have chronic sinusitis and nasal polyps. I switched doctors and the new specialist suggested trying oral steroids, something that my previous doctor never mentioned. What do you think?

A. I think a short course of five to seven days of oral steroids is worth a try, particularly if your sinusitis isn't getting any better.

As you know, sinusitis is inflammation of the mucous membranes that line the sinuses, and nasal polyps are fleshy growths inside the nasal passageways and sinuses. Sinusitis often causes an uncomfortable feeling of pressure in the face (the exact location depends on the sinus involved) and headaches. Not all cases of chronic sinusitis result in polyps, but polyps are a common consequence of the continual inflammation of nasal tissues that occurs when sinusitis becomes a chronic condition. Large nasal polyps can make breathing difficult and may diminish the sense of smell. But even if they're quite large, polyps may not be visible to the patient because they tend to grow farther back in the nose.

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