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Nasal polyps are painless soft growths inside your nose. Nasal polyps are usually pearly grey in colour, and they vary in size. Each polyp is a soft teardrop-shaped swelling which hangs down, resembling a small grape within the nose. Nasal polyps are difficult to see, and they may not cause any symptoms, so many people don’t realise they have them.
Nasal polyps will usually only cause a problem if they become large or grow in clusters. In these cases, nasal polyps can block your nasal passages leading to breathing problems, a loss of sense of smell and frequent infections
Nasal polyps are benign (non-cancerous) growths and may not cause any symptoms.
The exact causes of nasal polyps aren’t known. They may develop as a result of inflammation of the sinuses and the nasal passages causing the lining to swell and hang down.
The underlying cause of this inflammation isn’t clear, but it’s thought that your risk of developing nasal polyps increases if you have:
Nasal polyp symptoms include:
Nasal polyp symptoms can be very similar to other, more common conditions such as flu or the common cold. However, unlike these conditions, the symptoms of nasal polyps usually don’t get better without treatment.
You should see your GP if you suspect you have nasal polyps or if you have nasal symptoms lasting for a month or more.
Your GP will discuss your symptoms and will examine the inside of your nose. They can refer you to our Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Consultants for further tests to confirm the presence of nasal polyps, and to determine their number and size.
If you’ve been diagnosed with nasal polyps, you may be given steroid or a nasal polyp spray.
If your nasal polyps don’t improve after around ten weeks, or after other treatments have been unsuccessful, your GP or ENT Consultant may suggest you have a nasal polypectomy to remove them. A nasal polypectomy is an operation to remove nasal polyps from the nose or sinuses, usually under general anaesthetic.
Using an endoscope (a tube with a video camera at one end) to see inside your nose and sinuses, the surgeon will access your polyps through your nostrils and will use special suction and instruments to remove the polyps. Operating through your nostrils in this way means that no incision is needed on the face.
Surgery is normally carried out under general anaesthetic so you’ll be asleep during the operation. Using an endoscope (a tube with a video camera at one end) to see inside your nose and sinuses, the surgeon will insert a tiny instrument called a microdebrider (a tiny rotary vacuum shaver) through a nostril to remove the polyps. Operating through your nostrils in this way means that no incision is needed on the face.
Often you’ll be able to go home on the same day as your operation. Before you go home we’ll check that there is no bleeding from your nose and we’ll discuss follow-up visits and any medication with you before you leave hospital.
You’ll need to rest for a couple of weeks after surgery. During this time your nose will probably feel congested or blocked due to a bloody nasal discharge which may also cause crusting inside the nose. These symptoms should disappear after two or three weeks.
If you’ve been given some medication then it’s important to carry on taking it as advised by your surgeon. It's fairly common for nasal polyps to recur (grow back) within a few years, so any treatment may need to be repeated. Steroid spray, if used regularly over the long-term, can help delay the return of nasal polyps.