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Home > Services > Allergy > Allergies We Treat > Nasal Polyp

Nasal Polyp

Nasal Polyp

Nasal polyps are soft and pearl-colored growths that develop on the inside of your nose or sinuses. You may have a single nasal polyp or you may have several. 

nasal polyp

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The exact cause of nasal polyps is unknown. Several factors may contribute to nasal polyps, including:

  • Irritation in the sinuses from allergy or infection
  • Frequent sinus infections
  • Asthma
  • Allergy to things in the air

Are You at Risk?

Factors that can increase your chance of developing nasal polyps include:

  • Gender: males
  • Age 40 or older
  • Aspirin sensitivity or allergy
  • Asthma
  • Churg-Strauss syndrome
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hay fever or other respiratory allergies
  • Frequent sinus infections

Nasal Polyp Symptoms

Very small nasal polyps may not cause any symptoms. Larger polyps may block the nose, making it difficult to breathe through the nose. They can also block the passage of odors and reduce the sense of smell.

Symptoms may include:

  • Mouth breathing
  • A runny nose
  • Constant stuffiness
  • Loss or reduction of sense of smell or taste
  • Dull headaches
  • Snoring
  • Frequent nosebleeds
If you have any of these symptoms do not assume it's due to nasal polyps; they may be caused by other conditions.

Diagnosing Nasal Polyps

Your doctor will ask about your current medications and any personal or family history, including any allergies. Your doctor will also look at the inside of your nose to check for blockage. This physical exam may include:

  • Putting cotton balls soaked in medicine inside your nose to reduce swelling or spraying the inside of your nose with an anesthetic medicine
  • Using a small instrument to look inside the nose
  • Gently pressing inside of the nose to check for swelling

You may undergo tests, including:

  • CT scans
  • Sweat test
  • Allergy skin tests
  • Biopsy of the polyp

Treatment Options

Medications

  • Nasal sprays, particularly those containing steroids, may help to reduce swelling, increase nasal airflow and help shrink polyps
  • Drugs to help reduce swelling and shrink polyps
  • Drugs to control allergies or infection, such as antihistamines for allergies or antibiotics for a bacterial infection

Surgery

  • Polypectomy — This procedure removes nasal polyps. If the polyps are small, this can be done in your doctor's office. Unfortunately, polyps often return.
  • Endoscopic sinus surgery — This surgery removes the nasal polyps and opens the sinuses

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Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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