What are nasal polyps?

Nasal polyps are soft, painless, noncancerous growths on the lining of your nasal passages or sinuses. They hang down like teardrops or grapes. They result from chronic inflammation due to asthma, recurring infection, allergies, drug sensitivity or certain immune disorders.  Small nasal polyps may not cause symptoms. Larger growths or groups of nasal polyps can block your nasal passages or lead to breathing problems, a lost sense of smell and frequent infections.  Nasal polyps can affect anyone, but they're more common in adults. Medications can often shrink or eliminate nasal polyps, but surgery is sometimes needed to remove them. Even after successful treatment, nasal polyps often return.

Nasal polyps can form at any age, but they're most common in young and middle-aged adults. Nasal polyps may form anywhere in your sinuses or nasal passages, but they appear most often in an area where sinuses near your eyes, nose and cheekbones all drain through winding passages into your nose (ostiomeatal complex).


Risk factors include:
  • Sensitivity to aspirin - people with an allergic response to aspirin or other NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are more likely to develop polyps.
  • Allergic fungal sinusitis - an allergy to airborne fungi.
  • Rhinitis/Rhinosinusitis - an inflammation of the nasal passage and sinuses, typically lasting 12 weeks or more. This condition includes hay fever
  • Cystic fibrosis - a chronic disease that affects organs such as the liver, lungs, pancreas, and intestines.
  • Churg-Strauss syndrome - a disease that results in the inflammation of blood vessels.
  • Age - Nasal polyps can occur at any age, but young and middle-aged adults are more at risk.
  • Genetics - individuals whose parents have had nasal polyps have a higher risk of developing them.
A doctor will generally be able to make a diagnosis after asking about symptoms and examining the patient's nose. Often polyps are visible with the aid of a lighted instrument.
The doctor may also order the following tests:
  • Nasal endoscopy - a narrow tube with a small camera (or magnifying lens) is inserted into the patient's nose.
  • CT scan - this enables the doctor to locate nasal polyps and other abnormalities linked to chronic inflammation. The doctor will also be able to identify any other obstructions.
  • Skin prick allergy test - if the doctor thinks that allergies may be contributing to polyp development, he or she may do an allergy test.
  • Cystic fibrosis - if the patient is a young child, the doctor may order a cystic fibrosis test
Chronic sinusitis, with or without polyps, is a challenging condition to clear up completely. You'll work with your health care team to develop the best long-term treatment plan to manage your symptoms and to treat factors, such as allergies, that may contribute to chronic inflammation.
The treatment goal for nasal polyps is to reduce their size or eliminate them. Medications are usually the first approach. Surgery may sometimes be needed, but it may not provide a permanent solution because polyps tend to recur.




  • “Nasal Polyps Management and Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15250-nasal-polyps/management-and-treatment.
  • “Nasal Polyps.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 3 Mar. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nasal-polyps/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351894.
  • “Nasal Polyps: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis.” Healthline, Healthline Media, www.healthline.com/health/nasal-polyps.
  • “Nasal Polyps: How Polyps Affect Allergies, How to Treat Them.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/allergies/nasal-polyps-symptoms-and-treatments#2.
  • Nordqvist, Christian. “Nasal Polyps: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 22 Dec. 2017, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/177020.php

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