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Nasal polyps – Symptoms, causes, risk factors & complications

These are soft, painless and noncancerous growths on the lining of the sinuses or nasal passages. It hang down like grapes or teardrops. They can happen from chronic inflammation due to drug sensitivity, allergies, recurring infection, asthma or certain immune disorders. When you have small nasal polyps, then they do not cause symptoms.

Groups of nasal polyps or larger polyps can block your nasal passages or they can lead to breathing problems, frequent infections and a lost sense of smell & it can affect all people, but most commonly they affect adults. Medications can be used to eliminate or shrink nasal polyps but in some cases, surgery is needed to remove them. Even after you had a successful treatment, nasal polyps can return.



It is known that nasal polyps are associated with an inflammation of the lining of the nasal passages and sinuses and they last more than 12 weeks (this is a chronic rhinosinusitis which is also called chronic sinusitis). But it is possible to have a chronic sinusitis without having nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are lack and soft sensation and they are small so you may not be aware that you have them. Large polyp or multiple growths can block your nasal passages and sinuses. The most common signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps include

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


Scientists do not fully understand what the cause for nasal polyps is. It is not known why some people can develop chronic inflammation or why the ongoing inflammation triggers polyp formation in some people and not in others. The inflammation happens in the fluid – producing lining (called mucous membrane) of your nose and sinuses.

There are some evidences in which are said that people who develop nasal polyps have a different immune system response and different chemical markers in their mucous membranes compared to people who do not have nasal polyps. It can happen at any age, but they are most common in young and middle – aged adults. They can form anywhere in your nasal passages or sinuses but they appear most often in the area where sinuses are near your eyes, nose and check bones all drain through winding passages into your nose (known as ostiomeatal complex).

Risk factors

Any condition which can trigger the chronic inflammation in your nasal passages or sinuses, such as allergies or infections and they can increase your risk of developing nasal polyps. Here are some conditions which are associated with nasal polyps

  • Churg – Strauss syndrome: This is a rare disease which is causing the inflammation of blood vessels.
  • Cystic fibrosis: This is a genetic disorder which results in production and secretion of abnormally thick and sticky fluids, including thick mucus from the sinus and nasal membranes.
  • Allergic fungal sinusitis: This is an allergy which is caused by airborne fungi.
  • Aspirin sensitivity: This can increase the chances of some people to have nasal polyps.
  • Asthma: This is a disease which is causing overall airway inflammation and constriction.

Also, the family history can play a role in it. There are some studies in which are said that certain genetic variations associated with immune system function can increase your chances of getting nasal polyps.


There are some cases when it can block the normal airflow and fluid drainage. Also, they can cause complications because they have chronic inflammation as their underlying condition. Here are some complications caused by nasal polyps

  • Sinus infections: There are some cases when It can make you more susceptible to sinus infections which recur often or become chronic.
  • Asthma flare – ups: It is known that the chronic rhinosinusitis can aggravate asthma.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: When you have this serious condition, then you stop and start breathing frequently during sleep.
Ramesh Kumar
Ramesh Kumar
Dr. Ramesh kumar, BAMS is naturopathy doctor who is well versed with health benefits of all fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants


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