The Asthma Center

Nasal polyps and sinus disease

Nasal polyps are noncancerous inflammatory growths found in the nasal passageway and sinuses. Polyps usually grow from the mucous lining of the paranasal sinuses. They are often gray or pearl in color, glistening and small grape-like or finger-like projections. As polyps grow larger, they cause nasal obstruction and blockage of the sinus ostia. Nasal polyps are frequently associated with recurrent sinusitis, asthma and nasal allergies. Chronic sinusitis associated with nasal polyps is often noninfectious and is often called chronic hyperplastic eosinophilic sinusitis.


It is not entirely clear why nasal polyps develop. They may run in families. They are often related to recurrent infection and/or chronic allergen exposure. If you are aspirin intolerant, you have a greater risk of development of nasal polyps. Polyps are seen in about 5 – 20% of those with respiratory allergies, but they can occur in those who do not have upper respiratory allergies. They are also associated with cystic fibrosis and allergic fungal sinusitis. Basically any chronic inflammation of mucous membranes may stimulate nasal polyp development.

Medical Treatment
Medical treatments for nasal polyps include:
• Oral corticosteroids
• Nasal corticosteroids
• Nebulized corticosteroids
• Allergy injections
• Oral decongestants
• Leukotriene modifiers

Surgical Treatment
Surgical removal of nasal polyps is called polypectomy. This is the most immediate and effective therapy if you have nasal polyps. Surgery is recommended when medical treatment has not shrunk your polyps. Unfortunately nasal polyps often recur following surgery. Some long term studies show the recurrence rate to be as high as 80%. Nasal polyps may take weeks to years to return. Following surgery, a combination of allergy injections, nasal corticosteroids, nasal irrigations, leukotriene modifiers and aspirin therapy helps reduce recurrence.