Nasal polyps

Nasal polyps are soft, painless, noncancerous growths on the lining of your nasal passages or sinuses. They hang down like teardrops or grapes. They result from chronic inflammation due to asthma, recurring infection, allergies, drug sensitivity or certain immune disorders.

Small nasal polyps may not cause symptoms. Larger growths or groups of nasal polyps can block your nasal passages or lead to breathing problems, a lost sense of smell, and frequent infections.

Nasal polyps can affect anyone, but they're more common in adults. Medications can often shrink or eliminate nasal polyps, but surgery is sometimes needed to remove them. Even after successful treatment, nasal polyps often return.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Nasal polyps are associated with inflammation of the lining of your nasal passages and sinuses that lasts more than 12 weeks (chronic rhinosinusitis, also known as chronic sinusitis). However, it's possible — and even somewhat more likely — to have chronic sinusitis without nasal polyps.

Nasal polyps themselves are soft and lack sensation, so if they're small you may not be aware you have them. Multiple growths or a large polyp may block your nasal passages and sinuses.

Common signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps include:

  • A runny nose
  • Persistent stuffiness
  • Postnasal drip
  • Decreased or absent sense of smell
  • Loss of sense of taste
  • Facial pain or headache
  • Pain in your upper teeth
  • A sense of pressure over your forehead and face
  • Snoring
  • Itching around your eyes

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if your symptoms last more than 10 days. Symptoms of chronic sinusitis and nasal polyps are similar to those of many other conditions, including the common cold.

Seek immediate medical care or call 911 or your local emergency number if you experience:

  • Serious trouble breathing
  • Sudden worsening of your symptoms
  • Double vision, reduced vision or limited ability to move your eyes
  • Severe swelling around your eyes
  • Increasingly severe headache accompanied by high fever or inability to tip your head forward

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