Sadly, even other doctors aren’t immune to this sort of well-intentioned misinformation when it comes to nasal steroids. A patient may get a prescription for fluticasone, a common nasal steroid better known as Flonase. Their doctor may tell them, “Just take it for two weeks, and then stop,” to alleviate the patient’s fears about the medication. But for some people, fluticasone has barely started working within that two-week span. It can take time for the effects to be noticeable. And some people need to take fluticasone every day, all year round, and they do fine.
In patients where the nasal polyps do not seem to respond to the above protocol (or if patient is refusing surgery), the addition of a very strong drug called Zyflo (zileuton) may be of benefit. This drug can cause liver damage (in <10% of patients) and as such, liver function bloodwork (AST/ALT) is required every month for 3 months and yearly thereafter. As long as the AST/ALT numbers do not exceed 150 (yes, it is higher than what is considered normal), it is generally considered safe to continue with this drug (though would check bloodwork weekly if that happens to ensure stability). Getting an immunologist involved in the care of such patients would also be beneficial, especially for those patients where the nasal polyps are particularly resistant to standard treatment.
General measures that allow mucus secretions to pass more easily may be recommended when it is not possible to determine the cause. Many people, especially older persons, need more fluids to thin out secretions. Drinking more water, eliminating caffeine, and avoiding diuretics (medications that increase urination) will help. Mucous-thinning agents such as guaifenesin (Humibid®, Robitussin®) may also thin secretions. Nasal irrigations may alleviate thickened secretions. These can be performed two to four times a day either with a nasal douche device or a Water Pik® with a nasal irrigation nozzle. Warm water with baking soda or salt (½ to 1 tsp. to the pint) or Alkalol®, a nonprescription irrigating solution (full strength or diluted by half warm water), may be helpful. Finally, use of simple saline (salt) nonprescription nasal sprays (., Ocean®, Ayr®, or Nasal®) to moisten the nose is often very beneficial.