Nasal polyps are soft, painless, noncancerous growths on the lining of your nasal passages or sinuses. They hang down like teardrops or grapes and result from chronic inflammation associated with 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 may return.
Symptoms of nasal polyps include:
- blocked nose
- runny nose
- constant need to swallow (post-nasal drip)
- reduced sense of smell or taste
Nasal polyps can sometimes feel like a cold. But colds tend to clear up within a few days, whereas nasal polyps will not get better unless they’re treated.
If your polyps block your sinuses (the air pockets around your nose) you may also have symptoms of sinusitis.
When to see a doctor
You should 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
Risk of nasal polyps
Any condition that triggers long-term irritation and swelling (inflammation) in your nasal passages or sinuses, such as infections or allergies, may increase your risk of developing nasal polyps.
Conditions often associated with nasal polyps include:
- Asthma, a disease that causes the airway to swell (inflame) and narrow
- Aspirin sensitivity
- Allergic fungal sinusitis, an allergy to airborne fungi
- Cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that results in abnormally thick, sticky fluids in the body, including thick mucus from nasal and sinus linings
- Churg-Strauss syndrome (eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis), a rare disease that causes the inflammation of blood vessels
- Vitamin D deficiency, which occurs when your body doesn’t have enough vitamin D
If you’re having problems with your ears, nose or throat, a private ENT specialist consultant can assess and diagnose your condition, as well as advising you on the best possible treatments and diagnostics. At Pall Mall, we offer private ENT appointments and services. Click here for more information or call us on 03300 58 44 55.