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Guide to Nasal Polyps: Symptoms, Causes, Risk, Treatment


Life should be a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately for some individuals, the presence of nasal polyps can turn this simple pleasure into a daily struggle. In this blog article, we'll delve into the world of nasal polyps, exploring their causes, symptoms, and how to help yourself breathe better once again.

Understanding Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps are noncancerous growths that develop in the lining of the nasal passages or sinuses. These soft, painless growths can vary in size and number, often causing a host of discomforts when they obstruct the airways.

Depiction of Nasal Polyps
"Depiction of nasal polyps", by, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

How Nasal Polyps Grow

Nasal polyps tend to grow in response to chronic inflammation of the nasal passages and sinuses. When the lining of these areas becomes irritated and swollen due to allergies, infections, or other factors, small sac-like pouches can develop. Over time, these pouches can grow larger and expand into the nasal passages, causing blockages.

Spotting the Symptoms

Recognizing the symptoms of nasal polyps is crucial for timely intervention. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Congestion: persistent stuffiness and difficulty breathing through the nose

  • Loss of smell and taste: anosmia (loss of smell) and ageusia (loss of taste) can cause nasal polyps

  • Runny nose: excessive nasal discharge that may be clear or colored

  • Sinus pressure: discomfort or pain around the eyes, cheeks, or forehead

  • Snoring: nasal polyps can contribute to snoring and sleep apnea

  • Post-nasal drip: a feeling that mucus is slowly dripping down the back of your throat

  • Chronic sinusitis: inflammation of the sinuses that lasts more than 12 weeks

  • Obstructive sleep apnea: repeated episodes of complete or partial blockage of the upper airway, leading to disrupted breathing

Common Causes

The cause of nasal polyps is not fully understood due to the complexity of the condition. However, research suggests that those affected may have an abnormal immune response and different chemical markers in their mucus membrane (which lines the sinuses and nasal cavity) compared to those who do not develop nasal polyps.

These potential factors contribute to the formation and growth of nasal polyps:

  • Chronic Inflammation

  • Asthma

  • Genetics

  • Aspirin sensitivity

Risk Factors

Some risk factors for nasal polyps include:

  • Age: Nasal polyps are most common in adults over the age of 30.

  • Gender: Men are more likely to develop nasal polyps than women.

  • Asthma: People with asthma are at an increased risk of developing nasal polyps.

  • Allergic rhinitis (hay fever): People with allergic rhinitis are also at an increased risk of developing nasal polyps.

  • Chronic sinusitis: Chronic sinusitis is another risk factor for nasal polyps.

  • Aspirin sensitivity: People who are sensitive to aspirin are more likely to develop nasal polyps.

  • Cystic fibrosis: People with cystic fibrosis are also at an increased risk of developing nasal polyps.

  • Vitamin D deficiency: A lack of vitamin D may also be a risk factor for nasal polyps.

Other possible risk factors for nasal polyps include:

  • Occupational exposure to certain chemicals or dust: Some people who work in certain industries, such as chemical manufacturing or woodworking, may be at an increased risk of developing nasal polyps due to their exposure to certain chemicals or dust.

  • Smoking: Smoking is another possible risk factor for nasal polyps.

  • Family history: If you have a family history of nasal polyps, you may be more likely to develop them yourself.

It is important to note that not everyone with these risk factors will develop nasal polyps. However, it is important to be aware of these risk factors so that you can talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

When to See a Doctor for Nasal Polyps

While they're usually noncancerous, knowing when to consult a healthcare professional about them is crucial for your health and well-being. Here are some key scenarios in which you should consider seeing a doctor for nasal polyps:

  • persistent symptoms without improvement upon taking over-the-counter treatment

  • mouth breathing or breathing difficulties

  • severe symptoms such as frequent nosebleeds, severe headaches, changes in vision

  • new or worsening symptoms

  • unexplained pain, bleeding, or discomfort in your nose or sinuses

  • concerns about polyp growth

Nasal Polyp Treatment

Treatment for nasal polyps depends on their size, severity, and underlying causes, Some common treatment options include:

  • Medications: Nasal corticosteroids, antihistamines, or decongestants can help reduce inflammation.

  • Surgery: A nasal endoscopy may be performed to diagnose the polyp growth. In cases of large or persistent polyps, surgery may be necessary. Learn more about nasal polyp removal here.

  • Allergy Management: Addressing underlying allergies can help prevent polyp recurrence.


Get checked by an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist

Don't let nasal polyps hinder your quality of life—trust ENT Family for expert care and peace of mind.

Address: 3911 Hollywood Blvd suite 201, Hollywood, FL 33021, United States

Phone: 754-888-1368


Dr. David Eleff, Otolaryngologist/Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist at ENT Family in Hollywood, Florida.

This article has been medically reviewed by  otolaryngologist, David Eleff, M.D.

ENT Family Blog

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