Nasal polyps are growths that develop on the inside of your nose or sinuses. They are not able to spread to other parts of the body. You may have a single nasal polyp or you may have several. Nasal polyps are soft and pearl-colored.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Men, especially those older than 40 years of age, are at increased risk. Factors that may increase your chance of developing nasal polyps include: Frequent sinus infectionsAsthmaAspirin sensitivity or allergyHay fever
or other respiratory allergies
Cystic fibrosisChurg-Strauss syndrome—a rare disease that inflames the blood vessels
Very small nasal polyps may not cause any symptoms. Larger polyps may block the nose, making it difficult to breathe through the nose. They can also block the passage of odors and reduce the sense of smell.
Symptoms may include: Mouth breathingA runny noseConstant stuffinessLoss or reduction of sense of smell or tasteDull headachesSnoring
You will be referred to a specialist. It is important to see a doctor with special training in diagnosing and treating nasal polyps, called an otorhinolaryngologists or an otolaryngologist.
You will be asked questions about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done, paying particular attention to your nose.
Pictures may be taken of your nose. This can be done with a
Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with: Sweat testAllergy skin testsBiopsy
of the polyp
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Medications may include: Nasal sprays, particularly those containing steroids, to reduce swelling, increase nasal airflow, and help shrink polypsMedications to help reduce swelling and shrink polypsDrugs to control allergies or infection, such as antihistamines for allergies or antibiotics for a bacterial infection
In some cases, surgery may be needed. This can be done with: Polypectomy—removing nasal polyps. If the polyps are small, this can be done in your doctor's office. Unfortunately, polyps often return.Endoscopic sinus surgery—removing the nasal polyps and opening the sinuses where the polyps form
There are no guidelines for preventing nasal polyps, because the cause is not known.
Dalziel K, Stein K, Round A, Garside R, Royle P. Systematic review of endoscopic sinus surgery for nasal polyps.
Health Technol Assess.
Larsen K. The clinical relationship of nasal polyps to asthma.
Allergy Asthma Proc. 1996;17:243-249.
Lund VJ. Diagnosis and treatment of nasal polyps.
Nasal polyps. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 25, 2014. Accessed February 17, 2015.
Patient UK. Nasal polyps. Patient UK website. Available at:
http://www.patient.co.uk/health/Nasal-Polyps.htm. Updated March 21, 2014. Accessed February 17, 2015.
White AA, Stevenson DD. Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease: update on pathogenesis and desensitization.
Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2012 Dec;33(6):588-94.
Last reviewed February 2015 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.