Over the years, we have made many strides in improving the way we are able to treat sinus issues. One common problem that has continued to be a challenge is treating chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyposis (nasal polyps).
When it comes to these conditions, it is possible that the future of better disease control may involve the use of biologics, and we’re thrilled to have these new options for our patients at Excel ENT.
The Basics of Biologics
Biologic response modifiers are a class of medications that treat conditions such as nasal polyps by targeting specific components of an individual’s immune system. They can modify the chemical responses of the immune system that are causing inflammation thought to be responsible for the growth of nasal polyps.
Biologics are made from living cells. Unlike many other pharmaceutical drugs, they are not synthesized chemically or from plants. They also don’t typically come in the form of a tablet but as a solution that has to be injected.
Biologics can be antibodies, enzymes, hormones, or other types of biologic components or cells (even viruses). Vaccines and insulin are types of biologics that have been available for many years.
Dupixent (dupilumab) is a biologic approved for the treatment of nasal polyps in the U.S., and it’s one that we’ve been offering for a while at Excel ENT. Another new biologic option we have is called Nucala.
Things to Know About Biologics for Nasal Polyps
Focusing primarily on Dupixent, as it’s the biologic option we’ve been offering the longest, here are some of the details we want our patients to know about.
Administered via injection
Biologics involve an injection. We will teach you how to do this, and you will either give yourself a shot or have a family member give you the injection. While there may be some discomfort with this, it often decreases over time. Injection site reactions, such as pain, redness, or swelling can be easily treated using cold or hot pads and over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen.
Possible side effects
As with all medications, biologics used for the treatment of nasal polyps may have side effects that inhibit their use by certain individuals. As with almost all medications, it is possible to have a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Signs of this type of reaction may include swelling of the face and lips, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, and wheezing.
When common side effects occur, they often improve on their own over time as you continue your treatment. These side effects might include injection site reactions, eye inflammation, increased white blood cell counts, sore throat, stomach problems, cold sores, joint pain, insomnia, and toothaches.
Not the best option for everyone
Dupixent is untested in individuals under the age of 6 for any use; it is approved only in individuals over the age of 18 for the treatment of nasal polyps. Women who are pregnant, those who wish to become pregnant, or those who are breastfeeding should not consider biologics for nasal polyps since they are also untested in these individuals.
Your insurance might cover biologics
Your health insurance might require that you provide ample documentation if you are prescribed a biologic. We will work with you to provide any necessary documentation required by your insurance company. Even though there may be extra steps in the process, many companies ultimately cover the medications.
Additionally, many drug companies including the manufacturer of Dupixent offer assistance to people wanting to try new options. Copay cards or other programs may reduce the cost of the medication for individuals who apply.
Find Out If Biologics Are a Possibility for Treating Sinus Problems at Excel ENT of Alabama
Biologics are a cutting edge option that will only continue to grow when it comes to treating sinus problems, such as rhinosinusitis and nasal polyps. It’s a great option to consider, and Dr. Davis will work with you to determine if it’s a viable option in your case. Schedule an appointment online, or call to discuss coming in at a time that’s best for you: 205-988-6858.