What is a Sinus Cyst?

 By: Jillian Phillips
Having a sinus cyst is fairly common. They are present in as many as 10 percent of healthy individuals. Most of sinus cysts are benign. On rare occasions, the cyst may become infected. For some people with cysts, they might not feel any symptoms at all, while others may feel facial pain or difficulty in breathing. Additional symptoms are continuous nose drips, difficulty in breathing and a decline in your sense of smell.

Sinus cysts, or nasal polyps, are soft and pearl-colored growths that develop in the lining of the sinuses. They can form in singles or in multiples that are clustered together. They are usually caused by a prolonged inflammation of the nasal passages. Symptoms of allergies and asthma can also lead to polyp formation.

When polyps are small, they don't usually cause any problems. People are only alerted of their existence when they start to experience the symptoms.

Some symptoms to watch out for are:

- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty in breathing through the nose, leading to mouth breathing
- Loss or reduced sense of smell
- Stuffy and runny nose
- Chronic sinus infection
- Headaches
- Snoring
- Nasal discharge
- Sensation of fullness in the face

Any condition that causes inflammation of the sinuses puts you at risk of developing a sinus cyst. These conditions include:

- Chronic sinusitis
- Cystic fibrosis
- Allergic fungal sinusitis

If you are sensitive to aspirin or non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, you are also most likely to develop sinus cyst. Age is another factor. Sinus cysts are more likely to show up on people over 40 years old. Children below 16 who exhibit the symptoms of having sinus cyst should be tested for cystic fibrosis.

Treatment and Prevention

To prevent formation of sinus cysts, it is necessary to treat the underlying conditions and manage the symptoms. Here are some guidelines that we can follow:

- For people who suffer from asthma, allergies or chronic sinusitis, avoid indoor and outdoor allergens to reduce nasal congestion.
- Treat bacterial infection by undergoing antibiotic treatment.
- Control allergies through intake of antihistamines.
- Saline nasal irrigation is extremely helpful in relieving nasal congestion and eliminating mucus.

The most common treatment for sinus cysts is corticosteroids. It is either injected directly onto the polyp or sprayed in the locality to reduce the cysts temporarily. However, side effects include nose bleeds, headaches or sore throat.

Oral corticosteroids can also be prescribed. It is often taken for a few weeks only due to its severe side effects during long term use such as headaches, weight gain, upset stomach, mood changes and difficulty in sleeping.

If medication fails, surgery is also an option. Polypectomy cuts the polyps away using a suction device. Endoscopic surgery removes the polyps and opens the part of sinus where polyps tend to form. Both surgeries are outpatient procedures.

However, the treatment options mentioned do not offer any guarantee that you will be cyst-free. In fact, sinus cysts often return. This is why it is better to focus on prevention instead.
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