Ailments & Conditions

Nasal Polyps: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatments & Prevention

Nasal polyps are benign (non-cancerous) clumps forming in the lining of your nasal passages or sinuses. Appearing together inside both of your noses, these teardrop-shaped or grape-shaped growths are soft and painless. You might not even notice any symptoms if you have a tiny nasal polyp. However, larger nasal polyps could block your nasal passages, and obstruct airflow, making it hard to breathe. Though nasal polyps could happen to anyone at any age, young people and middle-aged adults (30s-40s) are at a higher risk of having the condition.

Causes of Nasal Polyps

According to Harvard Health and Johns Hopkins Medicine, there is no identified evidence on what causes nasal polyps, while the disease is a result of chronic mucosal inflammation. The mucosa is the moist membrane that lines in your nasal cavity, and it functions as a barrier to protect harmful microbes from invading your body. People with nasal polyps seem to have different chemical markers on the mucosa, which trigger an abnormal immune system response and mucosal inflammation. With prolonged irritation, it could lead to fluid accumulation in mucosal and sinuses tissue (swelling), forming nasal polyps eventually.

Though the causes of nasal polyps remain unclear, some underlying inflammation in your noses or sinuses contributes to the development. These include but are not limited to:

  • Asthma
  • Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
  • Aspirin sensitivity
  • Long-term (chronic) sinus infections
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Vitamin D deficiency [1]