Nasal Polyps: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

What are nasal polyps

If you observe that your cold has stayed for a longer time, then there are high chances of having nasal polyps. The nose congestion won’t go itself, even with any over counter cold or allergy medication. 

Nasal polyps are noncancerous growth of lining tissue or mucosa in your nose. 

What are the causes of nasal polyps

Nasal polyps grow in the inflamed tissue of nasal mucosa. This mucosa is a wet layer that helps in protecting the nose and sinuses. It humidifies the air you inhale. 

The allergy based irritation makes the nasal mucosa to swell and red. It may even produce some fluid that drips out. If this happens for a long time, the mucosa may form a polyp. A polyp is a round growth small cyst which blocks nasal passages. 

Some people could be seen to develop polyps with no nasal problems. There are few triggers to develop polyps. These triggers are 

  1. chronic or recurring sinus infections
  2. asthma
  3. allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
  4. cystic fibrosis
  5. Churg-Strauss syndrome
  6. sensitivity to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin

This disease can be genetically inherited in you to develop polyps. This is because the genes cause mucus to react with inflammation. 

What are the symptoms of nasal polyps

Nasal polyps are soft and painless that grow inside the nasal passage. It is seen the upper sinuses drain into your nose (where your eyes, nose, and cheekbones meet). Polyps are not felt because there is no sensation on it. 

It can grow large and block your nasal passages that results in  chronic congestion. Symptoms can include:

  1. a sensation that your nose is blocked
  2. runny nose
  3. postnasal drip, which is when excess mucus runs down the back of your throat
  4. nasal stuffiness
  5. nasal congestion
  6. reduced sense of smell
  7. breathing through your mouth
  8. a feeling of pressure in your forehead or face
  9. sleep apnea
  10. snoring

Pains and headaches can also be seen if there is sinus infection there with polyp. 

How are nasal polyps diagnosed

Nasal polyp is seen if your doctor looks into your nasal passages with a lighted instrument called nasoscope or otoscope. 

If the polyp is deep in your sinus, then your doctor may ask to see a nasal endoscopy. The process is done by a trained doctor specifically in this using a flexible tube with a light and camera at the end in your nasal passages.

CT Scan or MRI may be needed to see the exact size and location of polyp. This polyp shows up as an opaque spot on the scans. These scans are also revealed whether the polyp. Polyp shows the defored bone in the portion. This can be seen as other kinds of growths that may be more serious i.e. structural deformities or cancerous growths.

Allergy test is done by doctors to check the source of persistent nasal inflammation. The test is t make tiny pricks on the skin and deposit the liquid for of variety of allergens. Now your doctor will see whether your immune system is reacting to these allergens. 

If a young kid is having nasal polyps, then  it could be genetic disease i.e. cystic fibrosis.

Treatments are available for nasal polyps


Medicines can reduce the inflammation and help in reducing the size of polyp and help in symptoms of congestion. 

Nasal steroids spray into the nose can reduce your nose from running and the sensation of blockage by shrinking the polyp. If you stop taking them, then symptoms may have quickly return. Some of these examples are  

  1. fluticasone (Flonase, Veramyst)
  2. budesonide (Rhinocort)
  3. mometasone (Nasonex)

An injectable steroid i.e. prednisone is good, if nasal options do not work. There are no long term solution due to the serious side effects i.e. fluid retention, increased blood pressure, and elevated pressure in the eyes.

Antihistamines or antibiotics can treat allergies caused by inflammation in the nose. 


Here if the symptoms are still not helping, then surgery has to be done to remove the polyps. The surgery is depending on what size of polyp has occurred in the nose. The polypectomy is a surgery done with a small suction device or microdebrider that cuts and removes the soft tissue , including mucosa.

In case of large polyps, your doctor can perform an endoscopic sinus surgery using a thin and flexible endoscope with a tiny camera and small tools on the end. Doctor guides the endoscope in the nostrils and finds the polyps and other obstructions to remove them.

After surgery is complete,  nasal sprays and saline washes can prevent polyps from returning This reduces the inflammation of nasal passages with nasal sprays, anti-allergy medications, and saline washes. These all can help you prevent it from developing again.  

What are the potential complications of nasal polyps

Treating nasal polyps after surgery may be bleeding your nose. A surgery could also result in infection. The treatment of nasal steroid sprays or oral corticosteroids may lower your resistance to sinus infections.

Final Words

After surgery, you may reduce the symptoms. If you have lost a few nose senses like smell, then it may never return. Nasal polyps regrow after surgery in 5% of cases. with a chronic nasal problem.

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