What are nasal polyps?

Nasal polyps are abnormal growths of the lining of the nose or sinus cavities. Most often these are benign, or non-cancerous, growths. Although they are not usually dangerous, they can cause problems such as blocking the drainage of the sinuses. It is not known exactly why people develop polyps; however, they seem to occur more often in people who have long-standing inflammation or infection. They occur more commonly in people who have allergies, asthma, chronic sinus infections, and cystic fibrosis.
Nasal polyps are soft, fleshy, noncancerous growths on the lining of the nose or sinuses. They are more likely to occur in people who have chronic sinus infections, allergies and asthma, possibly due to more frequent and long-term swelling and irritation in the area. Aspirin sensitivity and cystic fibrosis also raise a person's risk for developing nasal polyps.

Some people are unaware that they have nasal polyps because they cause no symptoms. In others, nasal polyps may cause symptoms including:
  • sneezing
  • headache and sinus pressure
  • nasal congestion
  • runny nose
  • nasal obstruction
  • postnasal drip
  • facial pain
  • reduced ability or inability to smell
  • itching around the eyes
  • chronic infections
Some nasal polyps clear up on their own, often when the sinus infection clears. In other cases, corticosteroid medications may shrink nasal polyps or they can be removed surgically.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.