Are Your Frequent Sinus Infections a Sign of Nasal Polyps?

May 10, 2023
Are Your Frequent Sinus Infections a Sign of Nasal Polyps?
Nasal polyps and sinus infections are two very different conditions. However, they’re also intimately connected. So, should you be concerned if you have frequent sinus infections? Maybe.Take a moment to learn more.

No one feels their best when suffering through a sinus infection. After all, they can cause pain and difficulty breathing, and limit your sense of taste and smell. 

But when these pesky infections become chronic problems, they can impact your quality of life on par with life-threatening conditions, such as congestive heart failure. So, if you have frequent sinus infections (sinusitis) or issues that last 12 weeks or longer, it’s time to find answers.

Our team at Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology Associates can get to the bottom of your ongoing sinus issues, including whether nasal polyps are to blame. 

The problem with frequent sinus infections

When you develop a sinus infection from bacteria or a virus, it typically goes away within a week or two, similar to a common cold. In some cases, you need antibiotics to treat the infection. 

However, when you have frequent sinus infections or they last at least three months, there’s often another cause involved — especially when they don’t clear up with treatment. 

Common causes of frequent chronic sinus infections include:

  • Asthma 
  • Nasal allergies
  • Deviated septum
  • A weakened immune system
  • Smoking

Sinus infections can also go hand-in-hand with nasal polyps.

Nasal polyps and sinus infections

First, it’s important to note that nasal polyps aren’t cancerous or life-threatening. However, they can cause irritation and obstruct your nasal passages. They can also trigger chronic sinus infections — similarly, chronic sinus infections can lead to the formation of nasal polyps.

A nasal polyp is a small growth that develops in the lining of the sinuses or nasal passages, like a teardrop. The polyp itself doesn’t have any sensation, so you may not even know it’s there. However, if you have several polyps or they grow large, they can cause numerous issues.

In many cases, the signs of polyps are similar to those of a sinus infection except more severe, and they often include:

  • Decreased or lost sense of smell or taste
  • Pain in the face, head, or upper teeth
  • Pressure in the forehead and face
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Persistent congestion
  • A runny nose or postnasal drip
  • Snoring, sleep apnea, or insomnia
  • Vision changes
  • Difficulty concentrating

Anyone can have nasal polyps, but they’re seen most often in young and middle-aged adults.

Diagnosing nasal polyps

Since sinus infections can have different causes — as can nasal polyps — the best way to determine what’s behind your chronic issues involves an appointment with an expert.

During your exam, we discuss your medical history and look for any underlying medical conditions that can lead to persistent sinus infections, including allergiesasthma, and sinusitis. This often includes a physical exam, checking your nose, and diagnostic testing, such as:

If we determine that you have nasal polyps, we typically recommend conservative treatments first. This starts with medications to shrink the growths and control inflammation in your sinuses. When nasal polyps don’t respond to medications, we could suggest outpatient surgery.

We can also offer personalized treatment options if we find another cause behind your frequent infections, like allergies or asthma.

Do you have frequent sinus infections? We can help get to the source of your symptoms. Call Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology Associates or book online to schedule an appointment at our offices in Tampa or Brandon, Florida, today.