Nasal Polyps – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment
What are nasal polyps?
Nasal polyps are soft, painless, noncancerous growths on the tissues that line the nasal passages or sinuses. Nasal polyps can grow anywhere on the lining of the nasal passages or the sinuses. They often grow where the sinuses open into the nasal cavity. Small polyps may not cause any symptoms or problems, but large polyps can block your sinuses or nasal airway.
What causes nasal polyps?
What causes nasal polyps is not exactly known to doctors. It is believed that nasal polyps grow due to long-term inflammation caused by allergies, asthma, or recurring infections.
Presence of the following conditions increases the likelihood of getting nasal polyps:
- Long-term sinus infections
- Sensitivity to aspirin
- Cystic fibrosis
- Hay fever
What are the symptoms of nasal polyps?
Symptoms may not occur if you have small polyps. Chronic sinusitis may develop if polyps block nasal passages.
When symptoms appear, they may include the following:
- A runny nose
- Stuffy nose
- Decreased sense of small
- Loss of sense of taste
- The feeling of nose blockage
- A headache and pain if you also have a sinus infection
How are nasal polyps diagnosed?
Your doctor will review your symptoms and will look into your nose to see if polyps are present. They look like grayish grape-shaped growths in the nasal cavity.
The doctor may order a CT scan of the sinuses.
How are nasal polyps treated?
Treatment is available to shrink the polyps, but it cannot get rid of nasal polyps completely. Allergy medicines can help prevent polyps from growing back.
The doctor may recommend the following treatment:
- Nasal steroid sprays: These sprays shrink polyps and help clear blocked nasal passages and runny nose. Symptoms return if treatment is stopped.
- Corticosteroid pills or liquid: These medicines shrink polyps, and can reduce swelling and nasal congestion. The effect of these medicines lasts a few months.
- Antibiotics: These medicines can treat a sinus infection caused by bacteria. They can’t treat polyps.
The doctor may recommend surgery (usually endoscopic sinus surgery) if the medicines don’t work or you have very large polyps.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.