Symptoms of nasal polyps 

Nasal polyps only usually cause symptoms if an individual polyp is particularly large or if there are clusters of polyps.

The symptoms of polyps can include:

  • blocked nose - which may cause breathing difficulties; you may have to breathe through your mouth
  • runny nose
  • mucus that drips from the back of your nose down your throat - known as post-nasal drip
  • reduced sense of smell or taste - in severe cases, you may lose your sense of smell or taste completely 
  • snoring 

Sinusitis

If one or more polyps develop in or around one of your sinuses, fluid and mucus can build up inside your sinus.

Sinuses are small, air-filled cavities that are located on either side of your nose, within the bones of your face.

If fluid builds up in your sinus and the polyp prevents it from draining, an infection can develop. An infection of the sinuses is known as sinusitis.

The symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • facial pain and tenderness near the infected sinuses - usually a throbbing pain that feels worse when you move your head, and toothache or pain in your jaw when you eat
  • a high temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or above

Some people with nasal polyps develop repeated episodes of sinusitis.

Severe or long-term sinus infections can be very serious. If the infection spreads to your eye, it could cause your eye to swell or bulge and you may be unable to move your eye. It could also affect your vision.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)

A very large polyp or a group of polyps can temporarily block your airways while you are asleep. This condition is known as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

Most people are unaware that they have breathing difficulties during the night because OSA does not cause you to wake up fully. However, constant interruptions to your sleep will mean that you feel very tired and drowsy during the day.

When to get medical help

A blocked or runny nose and a reduced sense of smell are typical symptoms of nasal polyps.

However, these symptoms are also related to several other conditions including the common cold. However, colds usually clear up within 14 days, whereas nasal polyps do not get better without treatment.

Visit your GP if you have cold-like symptoms that last for more than two weeks.

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Next review due:

Page last reviewed: 13/03/2013

Next review due: 13/03/2015