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Nasal Polyps Symptoms & Diagnosis


Very small nasal polyps may not cause any symptoms. Larger polyps may block the nose, making it difficult to breathe through the nose. They can also block the passage of odors and reduce the sense of smell. If you experience any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to nasal polyps. These symptoms may be caused by other health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician. Symptoms include:

  • Mouth breathing
  • A runny nose
  • Constant stuffiness
  • Loss or reduction of sense of smell or taste
  • Dull headaches
  • Snoring


It is important to see a doctor with special training in diagnosing and treating nasal polyps, called otorhinolaryngologists or ear, nose, and throat doctors. Your primary care physician can refer you to a specialist. You can also find a provider in your area by searching the American Academy of Otolaryngology website.

The doctor will look at the inside of your nose to check for blockage.

This physical exam may include:

  • Putting cotton balls soaked in medicine inside your nose to reduce swelling for a clearer view inside the nose or spraying the inside of your nose with an anesthetic medication
  • Using a small instrument to look inside the nose
  • Gently pressing inside of the nose to check for swelling

The doctor will ask questions about:

  • Medication use
  • Your personal and family medical history

Other tests include:

  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of polyps inside the nose and sinuses
  • Sweat test—a test that measures the amount of sodium and chloride in the perspiration to check for cystic fibrosis . Cystic fibrosis is rare, but more likely in children with nasal polyps
  • Allergy skin tests—to see whether you have allergies
  • Biopsy of the polyp—to confirm the diagnosis

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Nasal Polyps Guide

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