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    What Are Nasal Polyps?

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    Nasal polyps are common, noncancerous, teardrop-shaped growths that form in the nose or sinuses. They’re usually found around the area where the sinuses open into the nasal cavity. Mature ones look like peeled grapes.

    Often linked to allergies or asthma, they may cause no symptoms, especially if they're small and don’t need treatment. Larger ones can block normal drainage from the sinuses. When too much mucus builds up in the sinuses, it can become infected.

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    Unlike polyps that form in the colon or bladder, nasal ones are rarely cancer. Experts think that long-term inflammation causes them or that they run in families.

    Nasal polyps aren’t painful to the touch. Medications or surgery can treat most. They may come back, though.

    Symptoms

    If you have any symptoms, they may include:

    Most people with nasal polyps have a runny nose, sneezing, and postnasal drip. About 75% have problems with their sense of smell.

    Many people also have wheezing, sinus infections, and sensitivity to fumes, odors, dusts, and chemicals. It’s less common, but some people with nasal polyps also have a severe allergy to aspirin and reaction to yellow dyes. If you know you have that allergy, ask your doctor to check for nasal polyps.

    Nasal polyps make you more likely to have long-term (chronic) sinusitis. Large ones can even change the shape of your nose.

    Who Gets Them?

    Anyone can, but they're most common in adults over age 40 and are twice as likely to affect men as women. Children under age 10 rarely get them. If they do, a doctor will check for signs of cystic fibrosis.

    Nasal polyps are linked to allergic rhinitis, asthma, aspirinallergy, sinus infections, acute and chronic infections, something stuck in the nose, and cystic fibrosis. But many times the cause is unknown. Sometimes, people get them before they develop asthma or sinusitis.

    Some experts think that symptoms of allergies -- including runny nose, sneezing, and itching -- make some people more likely to get nasal polyps. But the allergy connection is controversial. Other researchers think that sinus infections are to blame.

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