If you have signs or symptoms of nasal polyps, you're likely to start by seeing your primary care physician. However, your doctor may refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist or an allergy specialist (allergist) for diagnostic tests or treatment.
Because appointments can be brief and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to prepare ahead of time. Here are some suggestions to help you get ready for your appointment and understand what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. When you make your appointment, ask if you need to fast for blood work or if you need to do anything else to prepare for diagnostic tests.
- Write down all of your symptoms, even if they seem unrelated to your nose or sinuses. Your doctor will want to know details about when your symptoms started and whether anything seems to make them better or worse.
- Take along a family member or friend, if possible. Having someone along can help you recall all the information provided during your appointment.
- Make a list of your other medical conditions. Your doctor will want to know if you're currently being treated for allergies, asthma or any other health conditions.
- Make a list of all your medications, including over-the-counter drugs and vitamins or supplements.
Questions to ask your doctor
Because time with your doctor is limited, writing down a list of questions will help you make the most of your appointment. List questions for your doctor from most important to least important in case time runs out. If you think you have symptoms of nasal polyps, you may want to ask some of the following questions:
- What is likely causing my problems with breathing, sense of smell and other problems related to my nose?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- What is the best course of action?
- Do I need to see a specialist? What will that cost? Will my insurance cover it?
- What type of follow-up examinations or care will I need?
- If I have nasal polyps, can we effectively treat the underlying cause of inflammation?
- What should I expect to happen over the long term?
- Will my new symptoms affect how I manage my other health conditions?
- Do I need to follow any restrictions?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to respond may free up time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
March 08, 2014
- When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
- When did you last have a cold or sinus infection?
- How often do you have colds or sinus infections?
- Do you have allergies? Do you know what you're allergic to?
- Do you have asthma? How well are you able to manage it?
- Do you often take aspirin, Advil, Aleve or any other over-the-counter drugs for pain?
- Do you smoke, or are you exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke?
- In your work or hobbies, are you exposed to chemical fumes or other airborne pollutants such as dust or debris from a leaf blower?
- Have you ever had any sinus or nasal surgery?
- Nasal polyps. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/ear_nose_and_throat_disorders/nose_and_paranasal_sinus_disorders/nasal_polyps.html. Accessed Oct. 15, 2013.
- Kalish L, et al. Topical steroids for nasal polyps. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006549.pub2/abstract. Accessed Oct. 15, 2013.
- DeMarcantonio MA, et al. Nasal polyps: Pathogenesis and treatment implications. Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America. 2011;44:685.
- Diagnosis and treatment of respiratory illness in children and adults. Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. https://www.icsi.org/guidelines__more/catalog_guidelines_and_more/catalog_guidelines/catalog_respiratory_guidelines/respiratory_illness/. Accessed Oct. 15, 2013.
- Aring AM, et al. Acute rhinosinusitis in adults. American Family Physician. 2011;83:1057.
- Adkinson NF, et al. Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 15, 2013.
- Bhattacharyya N. Clinical presentation, diagnosis, and treatment of nasal obstruction. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 15, 2013.
- Naegleria fowleri. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/naegleria/. Accessed Oct. 15, 2013.