What Are Nasal Polyps?

Nasal polyps are noncancerous, sac-like growths that form on the lining of your sinus cavities or nasal passages as a result of the mucous membranes becoming inflamed and swollen. Some nasal polyps are small enough that they go unnoticed and don’t require treatment. Others grow large enough that they can lead to obstructed breathing, meningitis, blood clots, and even aneurysms.

What Causes Nasal Polyps?

The specific cause is unclear, but nasal polyps are more common in people with certain conditions, for example:

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Allergic fungal sinusitis
  • Aspirin sensitivity


What Are the Symptoms of Nasal Polyps?

Symptoms are similar to those of a cold or allergies:

  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Loss of smell and taste
  • Sinus pressure
  • Headache
  • Snoring

If a cold or allergies are not present and symptoms persist for 10 days or more, you should seek medical attention.

Diagnosis and Treatment

To diagnose nasal polyps, we take a complete health history and examine your nose with a simple light tool. If the results are inconclusive, we may place a long, flexible tube with a light on the end into your nose to get a more detailed view of your nasal passages and sinus cavities. Further testing, such as an MRI, a CT scan, or allergy testing, could be needed if diagnosis is still inconclusive.

Treatment depends on symptoms, severity, and your general health. Treatment often starts with an attempt to reduce the inflammation via antihistamines, antibiotics, or steroid sprays. If the polyps do not respond to nonsurgical methods, outpatient surgery under local, twilight, or general anesthesia to remove the polyps may be an option.