Medical Q&As

Nasal polyps - in a child?

My 3½-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with polyps in her nose. I was told to come back in 3 weeks to check if they were still there. I told the doctor that she has always had problems with her nose i.e. can smell very little, very nasally, snoring and nearly always breathes through her mouth. The doctor has mentioned surgery. What does this entail? Also, how long will it take to get an appointment with an ENT specialist or should I just go private (no VHI)?

I am a little bit puzzled by your question on two counts. Firstly, polyps are unusual in young children and secondly I would not expect them to disappear within three weeks. In other words if they were present today I would still expect them to be present in several weeks time. Obviously I have not had the opportunity of examining your daughterís nose and I donít wish to dispute your doctorís opinion but the diagnosis of polyps in a 3½-year-old child is not very common and would warrant an assessment from an ENT specialist. Unfortunately the waiting lists for ENT appointments are amongst the longest for any speciality. You might like to check out our waiting list calculator in order to establish how long you would be likely to have to wait for such an appointment. With regard to your question about seeing an ENT specialist privately that really is a matter of personal choice but I do know that many parents choose to take this route even though they do not carry private medical insurance. If the ENT specialist confirms the diagnosis of nasal polyps then they can be removed surgically. This surgery is performed under general anaesthesia and is performed up through the nostrils, which means that there are no external visible scars from the surgery. There are a number of other diagnoses that could be considered including enlargement of the adenoids and nasal allergy. The latter problem can be controlled satisfactorily with the use of nasal sprays and drops whereas the adenoids are usually removed surgically if they happen to be enlarged. Finally, in expressing my initial feelings of puzzlement I most definitely do not want leave any trace of suspicion that there could be anything sinister happening with your child. Polyps, adenoids and various forms of nasal allergy can all be dealt with in a straightforward manner.