Nodules or Mucous? When Do I See a Specialist?

elderly woman coughing in handSymptoms impacting the nasal passages and airway can be frustrating – and potentially serious. When disorders make it difficult to breathe through the nose, you are more prone to infections or developing other complications.

Many people who believe that they have a problem with too much mucous may actually be suffering from a completely different condition called nasal polyps, also known as nasal nodules. Both of these issues share similar symptoms.

A specialist can help diagnose your exact condition. Consider seeing a specialist if you have noticed symptoms lasting for two months or longer. It is important to get care promptly, ensuring the situation will not worsen.

The Big Differences Between Mucous and Nodules

Mucous is a natural defense mechanism the body uses to capture dirt, dust, and germs to remove them through the nose. Mucous production ramps up when there is an infection, particularly in the lungs and airway. Coughing and sneezing can help expel mucous and various irritants from the body.

Nodules can develop in the nose and throat for various reasons. They generally take the form of small, noncancerous masses. Nasal polyps in particular are soft and hang down over the nasal passages or sinuses. The presence of these nodules can result in infection.

Mucous vs. Nodules: Symptoms and Warning Signs

If you are suffering from mucous, blowing your nose will tend to be productive. That is, you’ll see mucous come out. You may also feel the urge to cough in the throat – or deeper in the chest if you are suffering from a bronchial infection.

When suffering from nodules, you may feel that something is obstructing your breathing, but blowing will produce very little substance. Unlike mucous, nodules can cause a lasting deficiency in your sense of smell, which is another warning sign that points to the disorder.

Why Treatment is Important

People suffering from post-nasal drip and other complications of mucous overproduction are often hesitant to seek treatment. When overproduction continues untreated for too long, it can make serious respiratory infection more likely.

Although nasal nodules are usually benign, they can grow with time, holding a potential source of severe problems. In addition to infections, they can cause obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that causes breathing to stop while you are asleep.

Sleep apnea is potentially fatal, so nodules should be treated as soon as possible. In rare cases, even mucous production can block breathing during sleep. It should not be assumed that you can “tough it out” – complications you can’t diagnose yourself may be developing.

Treatment Options for Mucous and Nodules

Patients often achieve lasting mucous relief through mild, non-surgical methods. Several different prescription-grade medications are available in nasal spray form that will significantly enhance the efficiency of the nasal passages and airways. Likewise, there are certain self-treatment options that may be effective.

Nodules can be a bit more complicated. When nodules obstruct airflow, the best treatment is usually to surgically remove them. This typically reverses symptoms, including any loss of olfactory perception – sense of smell. To learn more and determine your best treatment options, contact ENT Centers of Excellence to book an appointment today.

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