Diagnosing nasal polyps 

If you have the symptoms of nasal polyps, your GP may examine your nostrils.

If you have nasal polyps near the openings of your nostrils, they may be visible by shining a light up your nose.

However, further tests may be needed to locate polyps deeper within your nasal passageways or in one of your sinuses. 

Further testing

If further testing is required, it will usually be carried out at the ear, nose and throat (ENT) department of your local hospital.

Nasal polyps can usually be identified using a procedure called an endoscopy to examine your nasal passages.

If needed, a computerised tomography (CT) scan of your sinuses and nasal passages can also be carried out. A series of X-rays will be taken and assembled by a computer to give a more detailed image of your sinuses and nasal passages. Polyps will show up as opaque (not transparent) areas in your sinuses and the walls of your nasal passageways.

If it is thought an allergy may be contributing to your symptoms, you may be referred for an allergy skin prick test. This involves pricking your skin with tiny amounts of substances known to be common causes of allergies to see if your skin reacts.


Nasal polyps are not usually found in children, with the exception of children with cystic fibrosis (where the lungs and digestive system become clogged with thick sticky mucus).

Therefore, if your child is diagnosed with nasal polyps, it is usually recommended that they are also tested for cystic fibrosis as a precaution.

A widely used test for cystic fibrosis involves measuring the amount of salt in a sample of sweat. An unusually high amount may indicate cystic fibrosis.

Read more about diagnosing cystic fibrosis.

Page last reviewed: 13/03/2013

Next review due: 13/03/2015