Nasal polyps are soft, noncancerous growths that can grow in your sinuses and nasal passages, eventually blocking your nasal passages and potentially affecting your breathing and sense of smell.
Nasal polyps are most common in adults and often the result of chronic inflammation of the nasal passages and sinuses. The real underlying causes – for example, why some people who suffer from chronic inflammation develop polyps, and some don’t – is unknown.
Patients who have conditions that cause inflammation in the nasal passages are most likely to develop nasal polyps. These conditions include:
Researchers also believe there is a genetic link to nasal polyps.
Because chronic sinusitis goes hand in hand with nasal polyps -- although not all patients with chronic sinusitis will develop polyps -- the symptoms of nasal polyps often accompany the symptoms of chronic sinusitis and might include:
If you’re experiencing any of the signs and symptoms listed above, you should schedule an appointment for evaluation; this can ensure you receive the right diagnosis and early treatment, limiting your risk of complications.
If you’re having serious difficulty breathing, double vision, severe swelling in the tissue surrounding your eyes, or a severe headache with any of the above symptoms, you should seek treatment in the emergency room.
Your doctor may use nasal endoscopy – a camera inserted into the nasal passages – combined with your medical history and family medical history to diagnose nasal polyps and other conditions like chronic sinusitis. In some cases, further testing like allergy tests, CT scan, or cystic fibrosis testing, may be recommended.
Sometimes medications can successfully reduce nasal polyps in size, or reduce or eliminate your symptoms. Nasal corticosteroids, antihistamines, antibiotics, and oral or injectable corticosteroids can help.
When medications are unable to provide adequate relief, surgical removal of polyps is required to prevent complications and alleviate symptoms.