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Sinus polyps – symptoms, causes, risk factors and complications

You should know that sinus polyps and nasal polyps are the same. They are painless, soft and noncancerous growths of the lining of nasal passages or sinuses. They hang down like grapes or teardrops. Nasal polyps result from chronic inflammation due to drug sensitivity, allergies, recurring infection, asthma or certain immune disorders. When someone has small nasal polyps, then they may not cause symptoms. When someone has larger growths or groups of nasal polyps, then they can block his or her nasal passages or they can lead to frequent infections, a lost sense of smell and breathing problems. This condition can affect any single person but most often it is happening in adults [1]. Medications which are used for nasal polyps can often shrink or eliminate them but in some cases surgery is needed to remove them. Even after someone had successful treatment, sinus polyps can return.

Sinus polyps symptoms

Sinus polyps are associated with inflammation of the lining of the nasal passages and sinuses which lasts more than 12 weeks (this is chronic rhinosinusitis which is also called chronic sinusitis). [2] But there are many cases when people are having chronic sinusitis without nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are soft and lack sensation so if they are small, then you may not be aware that you have them. When you have a large polyp or multiple growths, then they can block your sinuses and nasal passages. Here are the most common signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps:

  • Snoring
  • 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

If your symptoms last more than 10 days, then visit your doctor. The symptoms of chronic sinusitis and nasal polyps are very similar to those of many other conditions, such as common cold, so you can easily mistake them.

Sinus polyps Symptoms and Causes

Sinus polyps causes

It is not fully understood the real cause for nasal polyps. Also it is not clear why ongoing inflammation triggers polyps formation in some people and not in others or why some people develop chronic inflammation. The inflammation happens in the mucous membranes (fluid – producing lining) of your nose and sinuses. Doctors are saying that there are some studies 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 develop nasal polyps [3]. It is known that the sinus polyps can form at any age but most commonly they are affecting young and middle – aged adults [1]. Sinus polyps can form anywhere in nasal passages or sinuses, but they most often appear in area where sinuses are near your cheekbones, nose and eyes all draining through winding passages into the nose (ostiomeatal complex).

Risk factors: It is known that any condition which triggers chronic inflammation in sinuses or nasal passages, such as allergies or infections, can increase your risk of developing sinus polyps. Here are some conditions which are often associated with nasal polyps:

  • Churg – Strauss syndrome: This is a rare disease which is causing inflammation of the blood vessels. [4]
  • Cystic fibrosis: This is a genetic disorder which is resulting in the production and secretion of abnormally thick and sticky fluids in which are included thick mucus from sinus and nasal membranes. [5]
  • Allergic fungal sinusitis: This is an allergy to the airborne fungi.
  • Aspirin sensitivity: This can cause some people to have increased chances of developing nasal polyps compared to other people. [6]
  • Asthma: This is a disease which is causing overall airway inflammation and constriction. [7]

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

Complications: You should know that sinus polyps can cause complications because they can block the normal airflow and fluid drainage and also because of the chronic inflammation underlying their development. Here are some potential complications:

  • Sinus infections
  • Asthma flare – ups
  • Obstructive sleep apnea


[1] Johansson L, Akerlund A, Melen I, et al. Prevalence of nasal polyps in adults: The Skovde population-based study. Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology. 2003;112(7):625-9.

[2] Stevens WW, Schleimer RP, Kern RC. Chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. 2016;4(4):565–72.

[3] Hulse KE. Immune mechanisms of chronic rhinosinusitis. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports. 2016;16(1):1.

[4] Bacciu A, Buzio C, Giordano D, et al. Nasal polyposis in Churg-Strauss syndrome. Laryngoscope. 2008;118(2):325-9.

[5] Kang SH, Dalcin PTR, Piltcher OB, Migliavacca RO. Chronic rhinosinusitis and nasal polyposis in cystic fibrosis: update on diagnosis and treatment. Jornal Brasileiro de Pneumologia. 2015;41(1):65–76.

[6] Kowalski ML. Rhinosinusitis and nasal polyposis in aspirin sensitive and aspirin tolerant patients: are they different? Thorax. 2000;55:S84-S86.

[7] Langdon C, Mullol J. Nasal polyps in patients with asthma: prevalence, impact, and management challenges. Journal of Asthma and Allergy. 2016;9:45–53.

Merlin Joy
Merlin Joy
Holding a doctorate degree, Dr. Merlin Joy AKA Sinatra developed passion for home remedies from her mother, grand father and grandmother. Sinatra loves to read books and hiking. You can contact her through [email protected]


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