Nasal Polyps 

Introduction
Chronic conditions, such as allergies or sinus infections, can cause more than just a runny nose.  Nasal polyps are small growths that form in the nasal passageways following long-term irritation.  The growths are not cancerous, but they can make it difficult to breathe and smell.  Symptoms may be relieved with medications.  Surgical removal may be used in severe cases; however, polyps tend to recur. 

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Anatomy
Nasal polyps form in the lining of the nasal passages inside of the nose or sinuses.  Nasal polyps are fluid-filled soft growths that can vary in size. They may occur alone or in groups that look like clusters of grapes.

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Causes
Nasal polyps result from inflammation after an ongoing infection or irritation, such as sinus infections or allergies.  Nasal polyps are common in people with cystic fibrosis.  In some cases, the cause is unknown.

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Symptoms
Nasal polyps can make it difficult for you to breathe through your nose.  You may breathe through your mouth instead.  Your voice may sound different or congested because of nasal blockage.  You may have a runny nose.  Your sense of smell may diminish.

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Diagnosis
Your doctor can easily diagnose nasal polyps by reviewing your symptoms and examining your nose.  A nasal speculum allows the doctor to gently spread your nostril open before using a light to check for polyps. 

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Treatment
In some cases, nasal polyps are treated with steroid medications, allergy medications, or antifungal medications.  If symptoms are severe, polyps may be removed surgically.  Polypectomy and functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) are common surgeries for nasal polyps.

Polypectomy is an outpatient procedure that is used to remove small or single polyps.  FESS is used to remove multiple polyps or those located near the sinuses.  FESS uses an endoscope to guide the surgery.  An endoscope is a thin lighted tube with a camera that is inserted through the nostril.  Thin surgical instruments are used and the endoscope guides the surgeon. Symptoms typically improve following surgery; however, polyps that are caused by a chronic condition tend to come back.

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Am I at Risk
Risk factors for nasal polyps:
_____ Age over 40
_____ Hay fever or allergies
_____ Cystic fibrosis
_____ Sinus infections and asthma
_____  Aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) sensitivity

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.