Polyps are abnormal growths of tissue. They can develop in any organ that has blood vessels. They are most often found in the colon, nose, or uterus, and rarely in the stomach.
Nasal polyps are soft fleshy swellings that grow in the nasal passages and the sinuses due to inflammation of the nose lining. They may be yellowish, grey or pink in colour. They are common, non-cancerous, of different size and number. Sometimes there are several that look like a small bunch of grapes. They are most common in young and middle-age adults.
Small nasal polyps do not cause problems. Large nasal polyps can block the nasal passage, thus blocking the nose to smell and taste.
The common symptom of nasal polyps is similar to having a cold. This is due to the blocked nose and difficulty in breathing. However, cold can last 2-14 days, but the symptoms will not ease in case of nasal polyps without treatment. The common symptoms are:
- Runny nose
- Postnasal drip may occur (when there is mucus from the back of the nose because of large polyps)
- Lost sense of smell and taste
- Headaches, facial pain, and snoring in larger polyps
- Huge polyps can change the facial structure, pressing the nerves, which sometimes can double the vision
The cause of nasal polyps is not known. It is considered that chronic inflammation, infection, the immune system may be the causes of developing nasal polyps. There are conditions known to cause nose inflammation, such as: asthma, cystic fibrosis, allergy to aspirin, and some rare conditions of the nose (allergic fungal sinusitis and Churg-Strauss syndrome, a disease that causes blood vessel inflammation) that can lead to development of nasal polyps.
The risk factors of developing nasal polyps are the ones that can cause chronic inflammation, infections or allergies, such as:
- cystic fibrosis
- age – nasal polyps occur over 40; however, if children develop nasal polyps, they should be checked for cystic fibrosis
- aspirin allergy
- allergic fungal sinusitis
- Churg-Strauss syndrome
Complications from nasal polyps can arise due to blocked nasal passages. These can range from sleep apnea or infections (sinuses, eye socket) to meningitis (infection of the brain membrane).
Preventive measures for development of nasal polyps are the treatment options for the abovementioned conditions that cause nasal inflammation. In this case, good hygiene should be practiced, saline nasal sprays, control the allergies/asthma, keep humidity in your home.