Nasal Polyps


  • Painless benign inflammatory and hyperplastic lesions of sinonasal mucosa (1)
  • Arise from near the ethmoid sinus but can infrequently arise from maxillary sinus mucosa
  • Usually associated with chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS)


  • Appearance of edematous pedunculated mass in the nasal cavity or within the paranasal sinus
  • Often causes symptoms of blockage, discharge, or loss of smell
  • Most commonly bilateral; if unilateral, malignancy should be on differential.



  • Typical age at diagnosis ranges from 40 to 60 years.
  • Increases with age to a peak in the sixth decade
  • Men are more commonly affected, although women are more likely to have severe disease.


  • ~1–4% in general population (2)
  • Much rarer in children: ~0.1% and associated with cystic fibrosis
  • Asthma is present in up to 65% of patients.

Etiology and Pathophysiology

  • Separate T helper 1–driven and T helper 2–driven pathways
  • In the Western Hemisphere, nasal polyps are due to the T helper 2–driven eosinophilia, IgE causing inflammation, and elevated levels of interleukin-5, which is often associated with environmental and/or seasonal allergic triggers.


Patients with nasal polyps are more likely than controls to report having a first-degree relative with nasal polyps (3)[B].

Risk Factors

  • An increased prevalence of nasal polyps has been described among textile workers who have been exposed to occupational dust, particularly among those with longer-duration exposure (3)[B].
  • Nasal irritants such as smoke and other common allergens

General Prevention

  • Use of intranasal corticosteroids after polyp removal surgery has shown effectiveness against recurrence.
  • Using a humidifier will help keep your nasal passages moist. This can help improve flow of mucus in your sinuses and prevent blockage or inflammation, thus preventing nasal polyps from occurring or recurring.

Commonly Associated Conditions

  • Asthma
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Aspirin hypersensitivity
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Allergic fungal sinusitis
  • Cystic fibrosis (pediatric patients)
  • Primary ciliary dyskinesia (Kartagener syndrome)
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux

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