Can you get polyps in your sinuses?


Ever wondered why your nose is running like it’s participating in a marathon? Have you ever experienced difficulty breathing through your nostrils despite not having any allergies or flu symptoms? Maybe, just maybe, you have polyps residing in your sinuses. Don’t know what that means? Well, lucky for you, we’re here to tell you all about it!

What Are Polyps?

Polyps are abnormal growths that can appear inside the body. They are usually non-cancerous and can show up anywhere from the colon to the uterus. But today we’re talking about nasal polyps which are soft, painless growths on the lining of your nasal passages or sinuses.

Polyps look a lot like small grapes and they grow in clusters. They hang down from their stalks like fruit suspended from a vine but unlike fruit, nobody wants them.

The life cycle of polyp cells

With all due respect to our snot factories (sinus mucosa), polyp cells behave very unprofessionally by overstaying their welcome.

Normally (and I use this term loosely), sinus cells divide at a slow pace: two normal cells become four new ones.

As these brand-new baby cells form into mature adult cells – taking completely different roles- previous versions expire naturally (in scientific terms apoptosis) so every cell has its own personal space… well sometimes they end up too close because specialists say inflammation left these epithelial/polypoïd groupies lost af with no real purpose anymore…

So now there’s an over-sized team and suddenly some decide they need more elbow room than others or really stick out as needing additional description..they’re divisive little creatures! This bickering triggers reactive oxygen species generation speaking to somebody else without using “Oxygenation”. Let’s just say… if aggressive reactive oxygen species (ROS; usually associated with ageing or cancer progression when they remain active/manage to self-sustain) and other irritants hang around for long enough in the area, cells that are injured/cannot handle them (such as clusters of preexisting polyps/airway lining abnormalities we mentioned earlier), start producing chemical signals to request for help via inflammation. This inflammatory response appears similar to what one would experience if suffering a cold: you get all red, a little hot & start being dramatic.

Out go immune cells rushing towards the source of stress…in come more ROS etc. More sick and dying cells + oedema form causing further spaces/deal w fluid obstruction which’s remarkable given how small these areas are…eventually its’ overwhelmingly chaotic that persistent groups become best friends- BFF’s for life…

Fast forward a few “rom-com” style dates later –and voila– you’ve got yourself nasal polyps even though there is no such thing as an environmental cue for any growth epic under normal circumstances…. Sounds familiar? Yes! Polyp growth starts like most relationships…

What Causes Nasal Polyps?

For now, doctors don’t exactly know why some people develop sinus polyps while others don’t. But recent research suggests that polyp formation occurs because of the body’s immune system responding excessively to allergies or chronic irritation.

So here’s where it gets interesting – your sinuses are responsible not only for cleaning up incoming air but also trapping harmful substances so they can stay out of harm’s way … but apparently our bodies are unappreciative little organ-slaves.

Your sinuses’ significant job expose themselves daily by protecting the lungs via nasal cilia known colloquially as my loyal nose-hairs!. These tiny hair-like structures can quickly move mucus from place-to-place which brings things trapped inside into one centralized location readying them for clearance… Seems like real hard work right? They deserve an award (or at least their own Social Media account- some of these hairs are straight baddies as we’ll see in later paras).

However, with something like allergies, your immune system thinks there’s a threat and attacks it unnecessarily. This immune response causes inflammation in the sinus lining which irritates proximal mucus membranes leading to higher toxin build up volumes than necessary…this results in significant stresses/provoke inappropriate cell differentiation/events happen subsequently.

So while infection from cold or flu can lead to temporary polyps that go away after initial phases have passed (just like your toxic Ex… ugh), allergies or chronic irritation causes previously optimized body systems to implode — resulting in more complex beasts emerging known int’l circles as polyp formation.

How do you know if you have nasal polyps?

Fortunately and unfortunately everyone with chronic rhinitis/etc. is one step closer toward being part of that never-ending story club; however only about 4% of adults actually develop nasal polyps over time – so no need for unnecessary anxiety just yet!

Some symptoms include:

  • Nasal congestion or stuffiness
  • undress
    -Mouth-breathing during sleep
    -Loss/smell/taste alteration

These don’t necessarily indicate that you have polyps but having any persistent symptoms should motivate pressing matters none-the-less. If issues including headache/COVID signs ache on top–proceeding quickly would be advisable.


Okay, so what happens if you get diagnosed with nasal polyps? Many people worry when they hear this news because the word “polyp” sounds very scary but despite sounding like a terrible winter sport injury such as herniated dome bruises all around due to ice-thin air exposure —treatments are usually not invasive…


Your doctor will try medication first before turning to surgery. They will prescribe a nasal spray containing steroids or corticosteroids which can help reduce inflammation in the sinus lining and shrink the polyps to manageable sizes- –think of it as dusting off your fancy closet… that you totally have but never use…

If your doctor suspects an underlying infection, they may also give you antibiotics.


If medication isn’t working for some reason, then surgery might be necessary – this usually includes Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (ESS) where a specialist numbs sensitive areas alongside administering meds to produce relaxation follows by long flexible fiber-endoscope inserted into pathways via sinuses communicating real-time with screens+removable devices utilized by experts who gradually take out polyp cluster (hence “Endo”-scopic).

The objective is partly diagnostic given how severe tissues are worse than meets the eye on exterior side observation while simultaneously removing all parts contributing to obstructions leaving free room/access+ minimizing future chances of recurrence. … just like cleaning up after Sunday brunch!


As much as we hate unsolicited advice; if you do suffer from seasonal allergies or chronic irritation make sure you’re doing everything possible to minimize exposure risk since inflammation caused directly /indirectly prompts cell changes/relabeling leading towards development.

In general:

  • Keep environment scent-free
  • Limit smoking
  • Avoid pet dander/pollen-filled places…
    You see– I told y’all ‘chemically sustaining relationships’ was trouble! Well, when it comes down to our lungs anyway..let’s air high-five those good ol’ mucus-trapping tiny hairs!!

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