Is it possible for a nasal polyp to irritate the trigeminal nerve, being that this nerve extends into the nasal passage?

“Trigeminal neuralgia is chronic irritation or pressure on the trigeminal nerve,” says Dr. Stacey Silvers, MD, of Madison ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery in NYC, who is board certified in otolaryngology; one of her specialties is sinus surgery.

“It can be caused by compression of the nerve by a mass, trauma directly to the nerve or effects on the blood flow supplying the trigeminal nerve,” continues Dr. Silvers.

“Polyps do not cause pressure and they themselves have no sensation; the mucosa that they are attached to is where the sensation is. Polyps are not known to irritate the trigeminal nerve.”

A nasal polyp is a soft, painless and benign growth that usually occurs in adults, though they can develop in people of all ages. They cannot turn into cancer.

Often, these growths are discovered during a routine exam when a doctor peers up the patient’s nose. Small growths typically do not cause symptoms.

Nasal polyps can cause quite a few symptoms.

Persistent stuffiness in the absence of a cold

Runny nose despite no cold or allergy

Postnasal drip despite no cold or allergy

Loss of sense of taste

Diminished or total loss of smell

Headache or facial pain

A pressure feeling over the forehead or face

Pain in the upper teeth

Itching around the eyes

Snoring

If you have any of these symptoms and a doctor has not determined causation, then have an otolaryngologist examine you for possible nasal polyps.

Treatment is either with surgery or medication. These benign growths can grow back after being successfully treated.

Regarding the trigeminal, Dr. Silvers adds, “The nerve does have branches in the nose, and rare reports of trigeminal neuralgia have been seen after aggressive and minimally invasive sinus/nasal surgery.”

stacey silvers, MD

An NYC expert in ear, nose and throat care, Dr. Silvers has been named among America’s Top Physicians and Surgeons in facial plastic surgery and otolaryngology from 2003-2012.