What causes nasal polyps?

Scientists don't yet fully understand what causes nasal polyps. It's not clear why some people develop chronic inflammation or why ongoing inflammation triggers polyp formation in some people and not in others. The inflammation occurs in the fluid-producing lining (mucous membrane) of your nose and sinuses. There's some evidence that people who develop polyps have a different immune system response and different chemical markers in their mucous membranes than do those who don't develop polyps.

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.




  • “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.


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