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Nasal Polyps

What are nasal polyps?

Nasal polyps are benign growths that occur on the lining of the nasal passages and sinuses. A polyp forms when the mucus membranes in the nose or sinuses become inflamed and swell over a prolonged period of time. Sinuses are small air filled cavities located throughout the facial bones. When the polyps grow large enough, they will block the nasal passageways and sinuses and lead to sinus infections and breathing problems.

What are the symptoms of nasal polyps?

  • Runny nose or stuffy nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Lost or weakened sense of smell and taste
  • Headache
  • Sinus pressure
  • Snoring at night

What causes nasal polyps?

The full cause of nasal polyps is not yet known. However, it is believed that inflammation results in the accumulation of fluid within the mucus membranes. This results in the formation of fluid-filled growths which over time expand to become polyps. Nasal polyps have been associated with allergy, certain genetic conditions, and asthma.

Who gets nasal polyps?

Anyone who has a condition that triggers inflammation in the nose can get nasal polyps. Conditions that trigger inflammation include:

  • Asthma
  • An allergy to aspirin or other pain relievers
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Sinus infections
  • Allergic fungal sinusitis (an allergy to an airborne fungi)
  • Other acute or chronic infections

How are nasal polyps treated?

Nasal polyps are not curable, but can be treated with medications. Nasal sprays and corticosteroid pills or liquid are the most common ways to treat nasal polyps. Antibiotics may be prescribed if there is a bacterial sinus infection.

Surgery may be required if the condition worsens. The type of surgery depends on how severe your polyps are. Endoscopic sinus surgery is the most common and is an outpatient surgery in which the surgeon uses an endoscope, a small thin tube with a light and video camera, along with other instruments, to examine the inside of your nose and to remove the nasal polyps and open up the sinus cavities for proper drainage.

What are the complications?

  • Chronic or frequent sinus infections
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Asthma flare-ups
  • Double vision (severe cases)

How do I prevent nasal polyps?

There are a few ways you may be able to help yourself from developing nasal polyps. The strategies include:

  • 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.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 7/23/2013…#15250

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