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.
Allergies affect more than 50 million people in the United States -- the poor souls who sniffle, sneeze, and get all clogged up when face to face with the allergen (or allergens) that set them off.
For many, allergies are seasonal and mild, requiring nothing more than getting extra tissue or taking a decongestant occasionally. For others, the allergy is to a known food, and as long as they avoid the food, no problem.
But for legions of others adults, allergies are so severe it interferes with...
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, aspirin allergy, 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.