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Nasal polyps

Contents of this page:


Throat anatomy
Throat anatomy
Nasal polyps
Nasal polyps

Definition    Return to top

Nasal polyps are small, sac-like growths made up of inflamed tissue lining the nose (nasal mucosa).

Causes    Return to top

Nasal polyps start near the ethmoid sinuses (located at the top of the inside of the nose) and grow into the open areas. Large polyps may block the airway.

Having any of the following conditions may make people more likely to get nasal polyps:

About one in four people with cystic fibrosis have nasal polyps.

Symptoms    Return to top

Exams and Tests    Return to top

Examining the nose shows a grayish grape-like mass in the nasal cavity.

Treatment    Return to top

Treatment may include medication, such as steroids or antibiotics. Some people may need surgery, such as functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS).

Outlook (Prognosis)    Return to top

Removing the polyps with surgery usually allows people to breathe easier through the nose.

Possible Complications    Return to top

Nasal polyps may come back.

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you regularly have difficulty breathing through your nose.

Prevention    Return to top

Although there is no real way to prevent nasal polyps, therapy aimed at the cause can help. Nasal sprays, antihistamines, and allergy shots may help prevent polyps that block the airway.

Also, aggressive medical treatment of sinus infections is helpful.

Update Date: 1/30/2008

Updated by: James L. Demetroulakos, M.D., F.A.C.S., Department of Otolaryngology, North Shore Medical Center, Salem, MA. Clinical Instructor in Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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