Nasal Polyps

What Are Nasal Polyps?

Nasal polyps are fleshy swellings or masses that develop from the lining of the nose and sinuses (air-filled spaces within the skull bones, communicating with the nasal cavity). Generally they are non-cancerous growths, though rarely they may be cancerous. They are typically multiple, pearly in colour, can vary in size and often look like grapes.

What problems can they cause (symptoms)

  • Blocked nose, to a varying degree
  • Runny nose and mucus that drips from the back of the nose into the throat (post-nasal drip)
  • Reduced sense of smell and/or taste
  • Feeling of fullness or pressure in the face
  • Noisy breathing and snoring
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) – airways become temporarily blocked during sleep
  • Occasionally nose bleeds
  • Sinusitis and related symptoms

What causes nasal polyps?

  • Nasal polyps are thought to develop as a result of inflammation of the lining of the nasal passages and sinuses
  • The cause of inflammation is not clear but predisposing factors including Asthma – 20-40% of patients with nasal polyps also have asthma
  • A number of patients will also have aspirin intolerance
  • Allergy like symptoms are common in nasal polyp patients
  • Eczema tends to be prevalent in nasal polyp patients

Nasal polyps usually affect adults and are more common in men than women. They are rarely found in children.


  • Large polyps are often visible
  • An endoscope is used by our ENT specialist to assess and diagnose the small polyps
  • A CT scan is essential to characterise the polyp and ascertain its extent
  • Blood test are generally not helpful in these cases


Polyps can be treated both with medication and surgery, depending on various factors. Our ENT surgeon will discuss all the options as mentioned below:

  • Corticosteroid nose drops or nasal sprays often shrink the polys reducing the symptoms
  • Corticosteroid tablets shrink larger or more troublesome polyps quickly but caution is required for their use
  • Endoscopic surgery is an effective treatment, and is the preferred method of treatment
  • As polyps can grow back after treatment, including after surgery, usually the advice would be to continue using corticosteroid nasal sprays. This would help to stop them returning so quickly.

Please click HERE for more information on the ENTUK website



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