Nasal polyps are growths that develop on the inside of your nose or sinuses. They are not able to spread to other parts of the body. You may have a single nasal polyp or you may have several. Nasal polyps are soft and pearl-colored.
The exact cause it not known. Several factors may contribute to nasal polyps, including:
Men, especially those older than 40 years of age, are at increased risk. Factors that may increase your chance of developing nasal polyps include:
Very small nasal polyps may not cause any symptoms. Larger polyps may block the nose, making it difficult to breathe through the nose. They can also block the passage of odors and reduce the sense of smell.
Symptoms may include:
You will be referred to a specialist. It is important to see a doctor with special training in diagnosing and treating nasal polyps, called an otorhinolaryngologists or an otolaryngologist.
You will be asked questions about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done, paying particular attention to your nose.
Pictures may be taken of your nose. This can be done with a CT scan.
Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:
- Sweat test
- Allergy skin tests
- Biopsy of the polyp
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Medications may include:
- Nasal sprays, particularly those containing steroids, to reduce swelling, increase nasal airflow, and help shrink polyps
- Medications to help reduce swelling and shrink polyps
- Drugs to control allergies or infection, such as antihistamines for allergies or antibiotics for a bacterial infection
In some cases, surgery may be needed. This can be done with:
- Polypectomy—removing nasal polyps. If the polyps are small, this can be done in your doctor's office. Unfortunately, polyps often return.
- Endoscopic sinus surgery—removing the nasal polyps and opening the sinuses where the polyps form
There are no guidelines for preventing nasal polyps, because the cause is not known.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
Allergy Asthma Information Association
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Last reviewed February 2015 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.