Your doctor can usually make a diagnosis based on your answers to questions about your symptoms, a general physical exam and an examination of your nose. Polyps may be visible with the aid of a simple lighted instrument.
Other diagnostic tests include:
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- Nasal endoscopy. A narrow, flexible tube with a lighted magnifying lens or tiny camera(nasal endoscope) enables your doctor to perform a detailed examination inside your nose and sinuses. He or she inserts the endoscope into a nostril and guides it into your nasal cavity.
- Imaging studies. Images obtained with computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can help your doctor pinpoint the size and location of polyps in deeper areas of your sinuses and evaluate the extent of inflammation. These studies may also help your doctor rule out the presence of other possible obstructions in your nasal cavity, such as structural abnormalities or another type of cancerous or noncancerous growth.
Allergy tests. Your doctor may suggest skin tests to determine if allergies are contributing to chronic inflammation. With a skin prick test, tiny drops of allergy-causing agents (allergens) are pricked into the skin of your forearm or upper back. The drops are left on your skin for 15 minutes before your doctor or nurse observes your skin for signs of allergic reactions.
If a skin test can't be performed, your doctor may order a blood test that screens for specific antibodies to various allergens.
- Test for cystic fibrosis. If you have a young child diagnosed with nasal polyps, your doctor may suggest testing for cystic fibrosis, an inherited condition affecting the glands that produce mucus, tears, sweat, saliva and digestive juices. The standard diagnostic test for cystic fibrosis is a noninvasive sweat test, which determines whether your child's perspiration is saltier than most people's sweat is.
- 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.
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