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Nasal Polyps

In the paranasal sinuses or nasal cavity, abnormal mass or growth develops. The growth or mass has a smooth surface and usually looks like a teardrop. Nasal polyps are mostly teardrop in shape. The growth is non-cancerous (benign) or non-malignant but can cause problems. The abnormal growth is confined to one or both the sides of the nose. Nasal polyp, which may be present at birth or develop later in life, is one such type of growth, the other one is papillomas.


Papillomas – the other type of abnormal growth is seen in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses. Papillomas that grow by overcoming healthy tissues have an irregular and rough surface, but they are usually non-cancerous. Inverting type of papilloma grow abnormally behaving like cancer though it is not. It is therefore classified as a benign tumour that can grow recurrently into nearby cells and tissues. Inverting papillomas are treated by surgery, which is normally done to treat cancers.

Causes of Polyps

Nasal polyps may develop due to persistent inflammation in the nose. They may also develop when the nose remains swollen from inside for long or when it is inflamed or irritated. With no previous nasal problems, some people may develop polyps due to some triggers such as:

  • Recurring or chronic sinus infections
  • Asthma
  • Hay fever
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Chrug-Strauss syndrome
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs sensitivity

Some people may develop nasal polyps due to hereditary predisposition.

Nasal polyps cause the following problems

Though they are not something scary to be worried about, yet they may disturb the proper functioning of the nose and may lead to headache, runny nose, nose bleeds, variations in taste and smell and also snoring. Nasal polyps may grow big and cause breathing difficulty and infections.

Symptoms of Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps are painless, soft growth inside the nasal passages, occurring in the area where the upper sinuses drain into your nose. As polyp lack nerve sensation, you may not even know that you have one. Polyps are capable of growing enough to block the nasal passages, forming chronic congestion. Signs and symptoms might include:

  • Nose blocked sensation
  • Runny rose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Nasal stuffiness
  • Nasal congestion
  • Reduced sense of smell 
  • Breathing through your mouth
  • A feeling of pressure in your face or forehead
  • Sleep apnea
  • Snoring

Headache or pain may also occur if there is a sinus infection with a polyp.

Do They Develop into Cancer?

Polyps are mostly present inside the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses. Doctors carefully examine such growths and keenly watch their progress to ensure that they are not developing into cancer. Head and neck surgeons and ENT specialists can easily differentiate nasal polyps from nasal cancers by careful physical and medical examinations and also by ordering certain tests. Some individuals may develop nasal polyps without being suffering from any sort of problems. In such cases, such polyps may not be treated. However, ENT surgeons treat larger problematic polyps with surgery or medicine.

Nasal Tumours

It is rare though to find any abnormal benign or malignant tumour to develop from the inside of the nose – however, the tumours from the neighbouring structures may extend into the nose (Nasal Tumours).  In adolescent and pre-pubescent males, a specific type of benign tumour called Juvenile Nasopharyngeal Angiofibroma (JNA) is common. It is one of the causes of recurrent nose bleeding.

Diagnosis and Treatment

An ENT specialist may suspect the growth of polyps in a patient based on the symptoms and medical examination. He or she may use a special instrument to see deep inside the nose to make sure that the growths are nasal polyps.


If a patient has an infection, then antibiotics or drugs may be prescribed by the doctor along with a nasal spray. If this type of treatment doesn’t yield results, then the doctor may endoscopically remove such polyps. However, the treatment may depend on the severity of the growth. Therefore, for severe cases, the ENT surgeon may perform more involved surgery.


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