Nasal polyps are noncancerous growths on your nasal and sinus lining. These polyps are commonly associated with chronic inflammation due to asthma, recurring infections, allergies, drug sensitivity or immune disorders.
While smaller nasal polyps are harmless and may not cause symptoms, larger polyps can block nasal passages and lead to respiratory problems. It can also lead to the loss of smell and frequent infections. They can last more than 12 weeks and can turn into chronic sinusitis.
The polyps are soft and lack sensation, but if they grow, they can cause symptoms.
According to the Mayo Clinic, common signs and symptoms include:
- A runny nose
- Persistent stuffiness
- Postnasal drip
- Decreased or absent sense of smell
- Loss of sense of taste
- Pain in your upper teeth
- A sense of pressure on your forehead and face
- Frequent nosebleeds
If polyps get big enough, they can lead to more serious symptoms such as:
- Frequent asthma attacks in people with asthma
- Repeated sinus infections
- Sleep apnea or other trouble sleeping
- Trouble breathing, even in people who don’t have asthma
Polyps develop as the lining in the nose or sinuses become inflamed over time, causing swelling, redness and fluid buildup.
Doctors don’t know the exact cause of nasal polyps, but allergies and infections can contribute to inflammation.
The polyps can form at any age but they are most common in young and middle-aged adults. They can form anywhere in your sinuses or nasal passages.
According to the Mayo Clinic, conditions often associated with nasal polyps include:
Some ways you can reduce your chances of developing nasal polyps are:
- Manage allergies and asthma
- Avoid nasal irritants such as allergens, tobacco smoke, chemical fumes, dust and fine debris
- Practice good hygiene
- Humidify your home to improve the flow of mucus from your sinuses
- Use a nasal/saltwater rinse
For more on nasal polyps and their treatment, visit www.MayoClinic.org.