Doctors do not know with absolute certainty what causes nasal polyps to form, but most tend to agree that chronic inflammation in the nasal cavity is what spurs these growths to form resulting in sinus passage blocking and infections. There is also some evidence that intolerance to aspirin increases the chances of developing them and that men over the age of 40 are more likely to get them than any other non asthmatic group. Allergies are not thought to be a main cause of polyps since they can occur at the same rate in people who do not have nasal allergies then those who do.
Many physicians point to asthma as one of the preconditions for the development of nasal polyps. In his book “The Sinusitis Help Book” Dr. M. Lee Williams writes: “It is often surprising how many asthmatics with sinusitis already have, or eventually go on to develop, nasal or sinus polyps, and how much improvement in their asthma may sometimes result from removing the polyps and clearing up their obstructive sinus disease.” He continues: “Unfortunately, even after polyps have been removed, more than one-third of the patients with nasal polyps will have a recurrence of them, and this is especially true for those with superimposed allergy, frequent sinus infections, repeated colds, asthma, cystic fibrosis, or aspirin intolerance.”
Unlike a tumor, a polyp is not a separate growth, and consists of the same type of tissue as its surrounding area. The polyp may even contain cilia and secrete mucous for a while before the tissue hardens and flattens and the cilia become lost due to chronic infection or irritation caused by its constant exposure to the nasal air stream.
Nasal polyps generally look like a rounded grape like growth that obstructs the nasal cavity blocking drainage passageways which results in bacteria growth and infection. While polyp found elsewhere on the body may turn cancerous, nasal polyps generally do not and doctors will not normally seek a biopsy when treating a patient for polyps in the nasal and sinus cavities.
There are some medications out there can help a person control nasal polyp flare-ups. Corticosteroid medications such as prednisone or steroid sprays have been used with success. If medication does not work, then surgery might be necessary. The trouble with polyps is that they have the tendency to return after being surgically removed. A doctor might opt not to perform surgery if the polyp is not causing a serious amount of blockage.
Nasal irrigation is not a procedure that is generally recommended for people with nasal polyps since the fluid stream of saline solution from the procedure could push against the sensitive polyp tissue causing traumatic pain.
As it is with other obstructions in the nasal cavities such as swollen turbinates or cysts, the blockage resulting from nasal polyps can lead to chronic sinus infections. People who are chronic sinus sufferers should consult their doctor to determine if they have nasal or sinus polyps. Thankfully, many nasal polyps respond well to medications and surgery is generally not necessary.