Nasal polyps

Nasal polyps are small, sac-like growths consisting of inflamed nasal mucosa.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Nasal polyps appear in a number of conditions. The polyps originate near the ethmoid sinuses (located at the top of the inside of the nose) and grow into the open areas. Large polyps may obstruct the airway.

Children with Nasal polyps sound congested and often breathe through their mouths because of chronic nasal obstruction. A runny nose or infected nose is common.

Polyps are seen with Asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), chronic sinus infections, and Cystic fibrosis. About 1 in 4 people with Cystic fibrosis have Nasal polyps.


  • Nasal obstruction  
  • Mouth breathing  
  • Voice (sounds as if person is congested)

Having any of the following conditions indicate a susceptibility to Nasal polyps:

Signs and tests
Nasal examination reveals a grayish grape-like mass within the nasal cavity.

Treatment may include medication, such as steroids (topical or systemic)or antibiotics. Surgery, such as functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS), may be necessary in some cases.

Expectations (prognosis)
Surgical removal usually allows easier breathing through the nose.


  • Infection  
  • Bleeding

Nasal polyps may recur.

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

There is no known prevention.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 5, 2012
by Potos A. Aagen, M.D.

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