What is a Nasal Polyp?

Written by: Emma Squillace

There are plenty of frustrating nasal symptoms that we’re all familiar with. Whether you’re fortunate to have just an occasional runny nose, or whether you suffer with congestion and trouble breathing every night, your nose can be a source of discomfort and aggravation. Allergies, viruses, a deviated septum, and the flu can all be sources of nose symptoms. But have you heard of nasal polyps? There’s another reason you may be having issues with your nose.

What is a nasal polyp?

Nasal polyps are soft, round growths inside your nose and near your sinuses. Sometimes these polyps are small and individual, causing few to no problems. Other times someone may have large polyps or clusters of polyps, which tend to cause more symptoms. A polyp is generally shaped like a teardrop, and our doctors can see these polyps during an examination, using a non-invasive tool that allows us to look inside your nose.

Is a nasal polyp dangerous?

The good news is that nasal polyps are non-cancerous, and the polyps themselves are not painful. The bad news is that they can cause problems including blocking the nasal passages making it difficult to breathe, reducing your sense of smell, and causing recurring infections. Nasal polyps can be treated if they are causing symptoms for you, but are safely left untreated in other cases.

Who gets nasal polyps?

There is no way of predicting who will get nasal polyps, although we do know some of the risk factors. People who have allergies are more likely to get nasal polyps. They’re also more common in adults and those who have chronic sinusitis. However, not everyone who has chronic sinusitis will get nasal polyps. There is also some correlation between having allergies to airborne fungus and getting nasal polyps. Some people who are sensitive to aspirin tend to be more likely to develop these polyps also. While they can develop at any age, they are seen less likely in children and older adults.

What symptoms can a nasal polyp cause?

When people have small nasal polyps, they may never know about them. These smaller polyps may not cause symptoms. However, larger polyps or those that grow in a cluster may cause chronic problems. Symptoms that are associated with nasal polyps include:

  • Pain in your face or head
  • Chronic stuffy nose
  • Decrease in your sense of taste or small
  • Aching in your upper teeth or jaw
  • A feeling of pressure in your head or sinuses
  • Snoring

Should I get treatment for a nasal polyp?

If nasal polyps are causing problems for you like headaches, congestion, or an inability to smell or taste, treatment may be warranted. In many cases, medicine is the first line of defense against nasal polyps. Medicine may be able to shrink or eliminate your polyps. However, in some cases medicine can only shrink the polyps – not get rid of them. When this happens, a minimally invasive surgical procedure is the next option, and this brings relief to many patients. It is important to note that even after nasal polyps have been removed surgically, they may still grow back.

If you have trouble breathing, tend to snore, are noticing a decrease in your ability to smell and taste, or have recurring pressure headaches, you may have an undiagnosed ENT (ear, nose, throat) issue. Our expert team of ENT physicians are happy to meet with you. We can evaluate your symptoms, help you understand what may be causing these issues, and present you with a range of treatment options. If you would like to set up an appointment, please call us at (855) 690-0565.

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