For 12 years, Shaun Farquharson from Croydon in Surrey had suffered from nasal polyps, which seriously affected the quality of his life. Shaun said, “I was living with a whole range of distressing symptoms – my nose was permanently blocked, and my nasal cavities were inflamed.

The blockage made me nauseous because material was building up inside my nose and pushing down the back of my throat. In turn, this was triggering an asthmatic reaction, which made me cough incessantly.” In addition to these symptoms, Shaun also suffered loss of taste and smell, sleep deprivation and he needed to constantly blow his nose.

Nasal polyps are abnormal growths of tissue that probably form because of inflammation in the tissue lining the nose or sinuses; the inflammation causes fluid to build up in the tissues, forming small, grape-like swellings. Polyps can trigger headaches, double vision, loss of taste and smell, breathing problems and cold-like symptoms. As in Shaun’s case, nasal polyps can affect both nostrils.

Previously, Shaun had undergone four operations for nasal polyps, but without lasting success. In the summer of 2010, he decided to seek the help of Mr Paul Chatrath, a Consultant ENT Surgeon, who has over 10 years’ experience in the NHS and a private practice at Spire Roding Hospital in Redbridge, Essex.

Shaun said “A work colleague read an article in the Daily Mail newspaper explaining a pioneering treatment called ‘Balloon Sinuplasty.’ She saw parallels with my symptoms and those described in the article. She passed it onto me and I contacted the private medical insurers and found that Mr Chatrath was on the list of approved surgeons. After the first consultation, Mr Chatrath explained that my unusual condition ruled out the new treatment but at the same time, he clearly understood my position and how I was suffering, so I was more than happy to continue under his care.”

In fact, during Shaun’s first consultation, Mr Chatrath picked up on a previously undiagnosed factor that may have been relevant to the recurrence of Shaun’s polyps. Mr Chatrath said, “In addition to nasal polyps, Shaun had a condition called ‘Samter’s Triad’, which is associated with asthma and an inability to tolerate aspirin and salicylate-containing foods. A polypectomy operation was certainly necessary but this alone was unlikely to have addressed the whole of Shaun’s problem.”

Salicylates are chemicals that occur naturally in many plants, including many fruits, vegetables and herbs. Salicylates in plants act as a natural immune hormone and preservative, protecting the plants against diseases, insects, fungi, and harmful bacteria. Salicylates are also created synthetically and can be found in many medicines, perfumes and preservatives, and most commonly in aspirin.

While most people can handle average amounts of salicylate in food, products and medications without any adverse effect on their health, for others even a small dose can be a problem. Some adults and children may develop symptoms such as asthma, sinusitis and breathing difficulties as a result of their intolerance to salicylates.

Shaun found this knowledge of salicylate sensitivity to be very helpful. He said, “Mr Chatrath explained that the prevalence of salicylate made it virtually impossible to avoid. Therefore, it would have to be managed by moderating the intake of salicylate through changes in my diet.”

Shaun was booked in for a nasal polypectomy operation at Spire Roding Hospital in July 2010. During this operation, the nasal polyps are gently removed using powered instruments which dissect the polyps away from the surrounding nasal lining and sinuses with minimal trauma. In addition, other techniques are occasionally used, including a procedure called balloon sinuplasty in which a fine catheter is inserted into the sinuses in order to increase the size of the drainage pathways and encourage sinus clearance.

Shaun says, “Mr Chatrath performed an excellent polypectomy! It was pain free and it took less than a week for me to recover fully – much quicker than I expected.” Mr Chatrath adds, “A polypectomy takes around 45 minutes to perform. Like Shaun, most patients recover quickly and report that they feel better soon after surgery.”

Following the operation, Shaun followed the advice of Mr Chatrath and adopted a regime of nasal rinsing using sodium chloride at least once every day.  Shaun’s polyps have not returned and his symptoms have almost completely disappeared. His knowledge of salicylate sensitivity has also helped to control his symptoms, and he is delighted at the difference the operation and Mr Chatrath’s advice has made to his life. He has made adjustments to his diet, such as reducing the amount of grapes and citrus fruit that he eats, along with other foods like nuts and some vegetables.

He says, “I would recommend the polypectomy operation, followed by a regime of nasal rinsing, to anyone suffering from nasal polyps. My symptoms have almost completely disappeared and my life has totally changed for the better.”