Nasal Polyps

pdfASCIA PCC Nasal polyps 201956.54 KB

Nasal polyps are soft, jelly-like overgrowths of the lining of the sinuses. They look like grapes on the end of a stalk. They occur in around 1 in 200 people, mostly by the age of 40 years.

Symptoms of nasal polyps

Nasal polyps do not always cause symptoms. As they usually grow through the tunnel that connects the sinuses to the nose, the result is often a blocked nose. Nasal polyps can block the tunnels connecting the nose to the sinus cavities, and this can lead to sinus infections.

Causes of nasal polyps

The cause of nasal polyps is unknown, but inflammation in the sinuses (from allergy or infection) may trigger polyps and make them grow faster. Sometimes other conditions such as sinus infections, asthma and allergy to aspirin can occur more often in people with nasal polyps. 

Treatment of nasal polyps

Treatment options include:

  • Surgical removal, although they will regrow eventually in around 50% of people.
  • Cortisone tablets will shrink nasal polyps temporarily, but cannot be taken long term due to side effects.
  • Intranasal corticosteroid sprays (INCS) can slow polyp growth and people with recurrent polyps who have had many operations are often advised to use INCS in the long term. In people with recurrent nasal polyps, INCS should be considered for continuous use. Slower growth means fewer sinus infections, less antibiotics and less frequent surgery.
  • Allergen immunotherapy (AIT) is also known as desensitisation, and is sometimes used in people with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) as well as nasal polyps. While AIT often helps allergic rhinitis, it is not known if AIT helps shrink nasal polyps.
  • A condition known as the aspirin triad occurs when people have aspirin allergy, nasal polyps and asthma. People with this condition have the treatment option of aspirin desensitisation, which can reduce asthma severity, the rate of polyp regrowth and the severity of sinusitis. The decision to undertake aspirin desensitisation should be made by a clinical immunology/allergy specialist.

© ASCIA 2019

ASCIA is the peak professional body of clinical immunology/allergy specialists in Australia and New Zealand.

ASCIA resources are based on published literature and expert review, however, they are not intended to replace medical advice. The content of ASCIA resources is not influenced by any commercial organisations.

For more information go to

To donate to immunology/allergy research go to

Content updated April 2019

Mod ASCIA Member
Donate to AIFA
go to NAC website

ASCIA is the peak professional body of clinical immunology and allergy in Australia and New Zealand
ASCIA promotes and advances the study and knowledge of allergy and other immune diseases

Quick Links


ASCIA is a registered trademark of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. All content is subject to copyright for the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. Read more...

The content for the website is developed and approved by ASCIA Committee and ASCIA Working Party Members. Read more...

Disclaimer I Privacy

The ASCIA website is intended for use by ASCIA members, health professionals and the general public. The content provided is for education, communication and information purposes only and is not intended to replace or constitute medical advice or treatments. Read more...

ASCIA respects your privacy. Read our privacy policy here...

Sponsors | Advertising

ASCIA does not endorse products from sponsoring organisations, nor is it influenced by sponsoring organisations with regard to the content of education programs and websites. 

The ASCIA website does not accept advertising. Any link to a third-party website does not imply any endorsement by ASCIA.

Information Partner

Official Information Partner of Healthdirect Australia