Ear, Nose and Throat (Otolaryngology) – Head and Neck Surgery

Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps are small growths that develop inside your nose or sinuses. They are more common among men than women and often accompany chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). Patients suffering from CRS can be divided into two types: those with and without nasal polyps. The latter consist of a patient population, typically over the age of 30, which can be challenging to manage.

The most common symptoms of these growths on the sinonasal lining are nasal congestion, dull headaches, and a decrease in smell and taste. Often patients will have complete obstruction of the sinuses with polyps, and rarely the polyps may erode the bone between the eye and brain area. This is the primary reason why polyp patients require long-term follow-up and maintenance of their medical therapy.

Causes of Nasal Polyps

Several factors may contribute to nasal polyps, including the following:

  • Irritation in the sinuses from allergies or infection
  • Frequent sinus infections
  • Asthma
  • Environmental allergies 

Diagnosis and Treatment of Nasal Polyps

An important step in the diagnostic process is to obtain a biopsy of the polyp to rule out a tumor or cancerous growth that can look similar to allergic polyps. A neoplastic process should be considered in the older patient who has unilateral polyp disease, especially if there is any extension of the tumor beyond the sinus cavity.

An endoscopic exam and a baseline CT scan are also important steps in the process. These studies help us stage the disease severity.

Medications such as nasal sprays (particularly those containing steroids to reduce swelling and help shrink the polyps) and drugs to control allergies or infection (i.e. antihistamines for allergies or antibiotics for a bacterial infection) can help control symptoms of polyps. In some cases, surgery may be required. At Mount Sinai, our experts are leaders in endoscopic sinus surgery, which involves removing the nasal polyps and opening the sinuses where the growths had formed.

Recent research advancements in topical steroid delivery are transforming the way we manage our patients who suffer from chronic sinusitis. Mount Sinai is one of the few hospitals in New York City participating in a clinical trial to utilize this technology in the office setting. For more information about this study, please see our Research  and Clinical Trials information.