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How Do Nasal Polyps Form? Are They Dangerous?

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

A man rubbing his nose

Nasal polyps are simple non-cancerous growths inside the nose. They are therefore not dangerous but severely affect the breathing and quality of life of the sufferer. They are soft and painless and often look like a bunch of grapes or teardrops. They cause nasal obstruction which is refractory to simple over-the-counter (OTC) nasal drops.

What causes nasal polyps?

There are several causes for nasal polyps and often occur due to ongoing chronic inflammation seen in:

  • allergic rhinitis,

  • asthma

  • repeated infection

  • allergies

  • drug sensitivity especially aspirin

  • immune disorders

a woman putting medicine in her nose from bottle

What are the symptoms?

Small nasal polyps are often asymptomatic. Larger polyps often cause a variety of symptoms such as:

  • blocked nose and breathing difficulty, especially at night.

  • Reduction or loss of smell sensation.

  • Recurrent nasal infections

  • Headaches

  • Facial pressure/pain

  • Snoring

  • Pressure or pain of upper teeth

  • Runny nose

  • Post Nasal drip

Diagram of small nasal polyps are often asymptomatic.

What can you do?

  • Avoid dust and allergens

  • Steam inhalation may aid in reducing the size of polyps

  • Saltwater nasal washes

A girl holding our nose because of dust and allergies

When should you seek specialist care?

  • If the polyp fails to clear spontaneously within 10 days

  • Worsening symptoms

  • Bleeding from nose



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