Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps are soft, painless, noncancerous growths lining the nose or sinuses. They happen most often in people with asthma, allergies, repeat infections or inflammation in the nasal passages. Medication and outpatient surgery can shrink nasal polyps and relieve symptoms.

Who gets nasal polyps?

Nasal polyps don’t tend to develop until well into adulthood, when people are in their 30s or 40s. They’re usually linked with some cause of inflammation in the nose, such as:


*Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or other allergies, such as to aspirin or fungus/fungi.

*Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS).

*Cystic fibrosis.

*Repeat sinus infections or other infections.

Do nasal polyps happen on one side or both sides of the nose?

Nasal polyps usually appear on both sides. A growth on only one side may actually be something else, such as a cancerous tumor.

What causes nasal polyps?

Polyps develop because the mucous membranes lining the nose or sinuses change. The membranes become inflamed for a long time or become inflamed over and over again. The inflammation features swelling, redness and fluid buildup.

Allergy and Nasal Polyps

Researchers believe that allergies and infections cause the inflammation. They think that because they’ve studied tissue taken from nasal polyps. Those samples contained extra eosinophils, white blood cells linked to infections and allergic reactions. The evidence points to inflammation causing small growths filled with fluid. Those growths then turn into polyps.

When polyps get big enough, they can block the nasal passages and sinuses, leading to:

  1. Frequent asthma attacks in people with asthma.
  2. Repeated sinus infections.
  3. Sleep apnea or other trouble sleeping.
  4. Trouble breathing, even in people who don’t have asthma.

How are nasal polyps diagnosed?

If you have symptoms of nasal polyps, talk to a healthcare provider. To diagnose nasal polyps, the healthcare provider may:

Ask about your health history, especially allergies, infections and asthma.

Ask you about your symptoms and how long you’ve had them.

Look inside your nose with a nasal endoscope (thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera and light).

Order a CT scan to take detailed pictures inside your sinuses.

How do I prevent nasal polyps?

Not everyone will be able to prevent nasal polyps. However, there are a few ways you may be able to help yourself. The strategies include the following:

Follow your doctor’s instructions on taking your allergy and asthma medications.

Avoid breathing airborne allergens or irritants that lead to inflammation of your nose and sinus cavities.

Practice good hygiene.

Use a humidifier in your home to help moisten your breathing passages.

Use a saline nasal rinse or spray to remove allergens or other irritants that may cause nasal polyps.

A note for you

When nasal polyps grow in the nose or sinuses, they can cause bothersome symptoms and lead to infections. Talk to your healthcare provider about medications and short surgeries. These treatments can shrink nasal polyps and relieve symptoms.

Posted on March 24, 2023