Nasal polyps are benign (noncancerous) growths of the lining tissues, or mucosa, of your nose.
Polyps vary in size; they may be yellowish-brown or pink and are shaped like teardrops. As they grow, they eventually look like grapes on a stem.
Polyps may grow in one or both nostrils at the same time; they can grow on their own or in clusters.
Large polyps or clusters can cause breathing difficulties and can affect the patient's sense of smell. They may block the sinuses and cause problems, such as regular infections.
Nasal polyps grow in inflamed tissue of the nasal mucosa. The mucosa is a very wet layer that helps protect the inside of your nose and sinuses and humidifies the air you breathe. During an infection or allergy-induced irritation, the nasal mucosa becomes swollen and red, and it may produce fluid that drips out. With prolonged irritation, the mucosa may form a polyp. A polyp is a round growth (like a small cyst) that can block nasal passages.
Although some people can develop polyps with no previous nasal problems, there’s often a trigger for developing polyps. These triggers include:
chronic or recurring sinus infections
allergic rhinitis, or hay fever
sensitivity to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which is an allergy-like response to anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
There may be a hereditary tendency for some people to develop polyps. This may be due to the way their genes cause their mucosa to react to inflammation.
Nasal polyps are soft, painless growths inside the nasal passages. They often occur in the area where the upper sinuses drain into your nose (where your eyes, nose, and cheekbones meet). You may not even know that you have polyps because they lack nerve sensation.
Polyps can grow large enough to block your nasal passages, resulting in chronic congestion. Symptoms can include:
A sensation that your nose is blocked
Postnasal drip, which is when excess mucus runs down the back of your throat
Reduced sense of smell
Breathing through your mouth
A feeling of pressure in your forehead or face
Pain or headaches may also occur if there’s a sinus infection in addition to the polyp.