A question we are often asked…what exactly is a polyp?
Typically, a polyp is an abnormal tissue growth that projects from a mucus membrane. In the nose and sinuses, however, nasal polyps develop a bit differently. The mucosal lining of the nose and sinuses gets heavy due to inflammation or excess mucous gland production. The heavy tissue begins to “plop down”, sort of like stalactites. causing an obstruction.
The most common polyps in the nose and sinuses, unlike polyps in the intestines, are not tumors or growths. If the swelling can be reduced medically, and there still is elasticity in the tissues, they can go back up, and basically resolve. However, once this elasticity is gone, the polyps may need to be removed surgically.
Polyps and Allergies
Although no one knows exactly why polyps arise in some sinuses and not others, there does seem to be a correlation between polyps and allergies or asthma. This link is not fully understood, however, and the development of polyps is more commonly related to inflammation. The good news is that polyps are typically benign, but can be extremely irritating.
While some people have small nasal polyps and never know it, larger polyps can:
- Block the airway, making it difficult to breathe
- Block the opening to the sinuses, causing recurrent sinus infections
- Block the tubes to the ears, causing middle ear infections
If you suffer from allergies, asthma, chronic sinusitis, or nasal mastocytosis, you may be at risk for nasal polyps.
Occasionally, tumors can be mistaken for nasal polyps. Additionally, polyps themselves may bleed or cause pain.
Contact us today if you’re worried about your nasal polyps, or would like to know more about treatment options (covered in the next post).
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