Nasal Polyps

Fleshy growths of the mucus-secreting lining of the nose

  • More common in adults
  • Genetics as a risk factor depends on the cause
  • Gender and lifestyle are not significant factors

Growths that develop in the mucus-secreting lining of the nose are known as nasal polyps. The exact cause of nasal polyps is not known. However, they are more common in people who have asthma or rhinitis, a condition in which the membrane that lines the nose and throat becomes inflamed. Although polyps rarely occur in children, they do sometimes develop in children who have the inherited condition cystic fibrosis.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of nasal polyps often develop gradually over months. The severity of the symptoms depends on the number and the size of the polyps. Symptoms may include:

  • Blocked nose due to obstruction by the polyps.

  • Decreased sense of smell.

  • In some cases, a runny nose due to excess secretion of mucus.

Nasal polyps may lead to recurrent sinusitis if the narrow channels that drain mucus from the sinuses become blocked by the polyps and the sinuses become inflamed.

What might be done?

If your doctor suspects that you have nasal polyps but cannot see them easily, he or she may arrange for you to have endoscopy of the nose (see Endoscopy of the nose and throat). You may also have CT scanning if the number and size of the polyps cannot be assessed with an endoscope. If there is a single polyp, a small sample of the polyp may be removed and examined under a microscope to exclude cancer.

Small nasal polyps may be treated by using a corticosteroid nasal spray or drops, which shrink the polyps over a few weeks. Larger polyps may be removed during an endoscopic procedure. A corticosteroid spray may also be necessary for several months after surgery to help prevent the polyps from recurring. In more severe cases, a course of oral corticosteroids may also be prescribed.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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