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Nasal polyps

Nasal polyps are a common cause of nasal blockage and congestion. Most cases are not serious, but they do affect quality of life and the symptoms may be protracted if not treated. Anyone can develop nasal polyps, but they commonly present over the age of 40 years old and are more common in men. They are also more likely to occur in patients suffering with allergy and asthma.

What are nasal polyps?

Nasal polyps are small growths of the soft tissue lining within the nose and sinuses. They often block the common drainage pathway of the air filled spaces in the facial bones (the sinuses) that surround and drain into the nose. When polyps occur, they usually develop on both sides of the nose.

What are the symptoms of nasal polyps?

The main symptom of nasal polyps is a constantly blocked, runny nose. Other symptoms include:

  • The nasal block may force breathing through the mouth, particularly during sleep
  • A reduced sense of smell and taste
  • A sense of pressure in the forehead, around the eyes or cheeks
  • Fluid dripping down the back of the throat (called a post-nasal drip)
  • Snoring
  • Sleep apnoea where for brief moments, you stop breathing in your sleep.

What causes nasal polyps?

The true cause of nasal polyps is still unclear, but it is likely to be an overreaction of your immune system. They are more common in people who have allergies, asthma, repeated nasal and sinus infections or specifically an allergy to aspirin.

Patients with cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition that causes a build-up of thick mucus in the airways, also develop nasal polyps.

How are nasal polyps diagnosed?

Nasal polyps are usually apparent after a clinical examination of your nose. Sometimes they are big enough to hang out of the nose and are obvious. For a diagnosis in most patients, an internal nasal inspection with a thin camera by an ENT specialist is required (nasal endoscopy).

A CT or MRI scan will determine the extent of the polyposis and will exclude more worrying causes such as tumours

You may also require allergy tests to see if there is an allergy exacerbating your symptoms.

How are nasal polyps treated?

Your doctor will often prescribe steroid nasal drops or a spray that will help to shrink the nasal polyps. For large nasal polyps you may require a short course of tablet steroids.

If a prolonged course of medical treatment doesn’t work, an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist should assess you for suitability for surgery to physically remove polyps.

If you are suffering or think you may be suffering from nasal polyposis, our team of expert specialists are here to help.

Find your specialist in nasal polyps at King Edward VII's Hospital

Miss Nara Orban  ›
Special interests include:
Allergies (+ 17) more
Mr Jonathan Fishman  ›
Special interests include:
General ENT (+ 1) more

Need some help?
Call 020 7467 4344

Our team is available to take your call Mon - Fri - 8am – 6pm

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