Nasal polyps are common, noncancerous, teardrop-shaped growths that form in the nose or sinuses, usually around the area where the sinuses open into the nasal cavity. Mature nasal polyps look like seedless, peeled grapes.
Often associated with allergies or asthma, nasal polyps may cause no symptoms, especially if they're small, and require no treatment. But larger nasal polyps can block normal drainage from the sinuses. When too much mucus accumulates in the sinuses, it can become infected, which accounts for the thick, discolored drainage in the nose and throat that affects many people with nasal polyps.
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Nasal polyps shouldn't be confused with the polyps that form in the colon or bladder. Unlike these types of polyps, they're rarely malignant. Usually, they're thought to result from chronic inflammation or a family tendency to develop nasal polyps.
Nor should nasal polyps be confused with swollen turbinates, which are the normal tissue that lines the side of the nose. Unlike swollen turbinates, they're not painful to the touch.
In most cases, nasal polyps respond to treatment with medications or surgery. Because they can recur after successful treatment, however, continued medical therapy is often necessary.