Ferrell Duncan Clinic Allergy and Immunology

Nasal Polyps

Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps are growths of mucosal tissue within the nose that can block nasal passages or sinuses.


Most nasal polyps start to grow near the ethmoid sinuses at and start to fill up empty space.

Nasal polyps can grow large enough to block sinuses and the nasal airway, resulting in recurrent episodes of sinusitis and difficulty breathing through the nose.

Nasal Polyp Symptoms

People with nasal polyps may experience chronic nasal congestion that has lasted for months or years. Other symptoms include mouth breathing, a sensation of the nose being obstructed, loss of smell, and a runny nose.

Headaches and pain are not usually symptoms of nasal polyps but may arise if there is a sinus infection.

Nasal Polyp Diagnosis

The doctor may look in the nose with a light and see the nasal polyps appearing as a soft, grayish mass of tissue.

A CT scan of the sinuses will show opaque (cloudy) spots.

Nasal Polyp Treatment

  • Nasal steroids may reduce the size of the polyps and improve breathing, but symptoms return once treatment stops.
  • Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat a possible sinus infection, but they do not shrink the size of the nasal polyps.

Some people benefit from the surgical removal of the polyps. Surgical procedures used include functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS). Surgically removing the polyps usually makes it easier to breathe through the nose, but nasal polyps may grow back.

Surgical complications include bleeding and infection.

Nasal Polyp Risk Factors

Some people are are at greater risk of developing nasal polyps than others. Risk factors include:

  • Asthma
  • Aspirin sensitivity (wheezing)
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Allergic rhinitis

Reference: NIH