Nasal polyps are soft, sac-like growths on the lining of the nose or sinuses.
Nasal polyps can grow anywhere on lining of the nose or the sinuses. They often grow where the sinuses open into the nasal cavity. Small polyps may not cause any problems. Large polyps can block your sinuses or nasal airway.
Nasal polyps are not cancer. They seem to grow due to long-term swelling and irritation in the nose from allergies, asthma, or infection.
No one knows exactly why some people get nasal polyps. If you have any of the following conditions, you may be more likely to get nasal polyps:
If you have small polyps, you may not have any symptoms. If polyps block nasal passages, a sinus infection can develop.
With polyps, you may feel like you always have a head cold.
Exams and Tests
Your doctor will look in your nose. Polyps look like a grayish grape-shaped growth in the nasal cavity.
Your doctor may do a CT scan of your sinuses. Polyps will appear as cloudy spots. Older polyps may have broken down some of the bone inside your sinuses.
Medicines help relieve symptoms, but rarely get rid of nasal polyps.
If medicines don't work, or you have very large polyps, you may need surgery to remove them.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you often find it hard to breathe through your nose.
Bachert C, Gevaert P, van Cauwenberge P. Nasal polyps and rhinosinusitis. In: Adkinson NF Jr., Bochner BS, Busse WW, Holgate ST, Lemaske RF Jr., eds. Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 56.
Mannin SC. Medical management of nasosinus infectious and inflammatory disease. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 50.
Review Date: 8/12/2013
Reviewed By: Ashutosh Kacker, MD, BS, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Associate Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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