Do you ever stop to take a deep breath through your nose, only to discover that something doesn't feel right?
There are many health benefits to breathing through your nose, but it's no easy feat if you can't get a full deep breath and have no idea why. You're not congested, it's not allergy season, you don't have a cold— everything seems normal. So what's the deal?
The issue's cause may actually be right under your nose— or inside of it.
Nasal polyps are a common medical condition that can cause many different nasal symptoms. They're generally harmless. However, they can be annoying and make it harder for you to breathe easily.
But what exactly are nasal polyps, and why do people get them?
What Are Nasal Polyps?
Nasal polyps, sometimes called nasal polyposis, are benign growths in your nasal cavities. They're often shaped like teardrops, and often hang down in your nasal passages. They develop most commonly during adulthood, typically during your 30s and 40s.
They're typically found in both sides of your nasal passages. In fact, polyps occurring only in one nasal passage may actually be cancerous nasal tumors. Remember, normal nasal polyps are benign and noncancerous. 
Nasal polyps are often a symptom of a common condition called chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS). CRS is characterized by inflammation of your nose and sinus cavities. It's an extremely common condition— almost 12 percent of all adults have it. About 20 percent of chronic rhinosinusitis cases will also have nasal polyps. This is known as chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps, or CRSwNP.
That's quite a mouthful to describe a condition inside your nose.
But remember— nasal polyps are generally harmless and may not even need to be treated directly if they’re not causing you any issues. Many common treatments for nasal congestion can also help with symptoms caused by nasal polyps. We’ll get into some of these later.
What Causes Nasal Polyps?
There's no single specific cause for nasal polyps. In fact, experts aren't quite sure what the main culprit is.
However, biopsies performed on nasal polyp tissue found elevated levels of cells called eosinophils. Eosinophils are a kind of white blood cell that help fight infections in your body. Because of this, experts think that elevated levels of these cells can create polyps in your nasal passages. 
Nasal polyps are also associated with medical conditions like:
- Allergic rhinitis— hay fever— as well as other allergies like dust allergies or pet allergies
- Cystic fibrosis
- Chronic sinusitis
- Infections in your nose, such as staph infections
- Deviated septum
Nasal polyps can also develop after prolonged or chronic inflammation of your sinuses, such as a sinus infection. This makes sense because this would create elevated levels of eosinophils— which can also be common triggers for the development of nasal polyps.
As you can see, nasal polyps can be caused by a number of medical conditions, some more serious than others. Now, we ask, how can you tell if you have nasal polyps?
Can you tell on your own if you will need your nasal passages to be examined by a doctor?
How Do You Know If You Have Nasal Polyps?
Honestly, it depends on the size of the polyps. Most nasal polyps are small to the point of being undetectable. They also lack sensation, so you likely won't even feel them in your nose— especially if they're small. In fact, small nasal polyps often go undetected because they're not causing any notable symptoms. If this is the case, then you can just ignore them if they’re not bothering you.
However, large nasal polyps are a different story.
A large nasal polyp can easily become a nasal obstruction if it overdevelops, especially if there's more than one in each nasal passage.
Some common symptoms associated with nasal polyps include:
- Nasal congestion— a stuffy nose
- Nasal drainage— a runny nose
- Loss of taste or smell
- Sinus pain
- Postnasal drip
If polyps get large enough, they can cause more health problems including:
- Obstructive sleep apnea— a serious sleep disorder that causes pauses or stops in breathing during the night
- Chronic sinus infections
- Difficulty breathing
- More frequent asthma attacks if you have asthma
Can You See Nasal Polyps?
No— at least not without help.
Because of their location in your nasal passage, it's difficult to just look into your nose and check for polyps. This can make self-examinations frustrating and unproductive.
This is why it’s recommended that you seek assistance when checking for nasal polyps, preferably from your doctor. They will be able to determine the existence, severity, and causes of your nasal polyps.
How Are Nasal Polyps Diagnosed?
If you're worried that your annoying or severe nasal symptoms are caused by nasal polyps, talk to your doctor. They'll ask you about your symptoms and how long you had them, as well as your health history. This includes any history of allergies, asthma, infections, or other ailments that might be contributing to your congestion.
If needed, they'll give you a CT scan to examine the inside of your sinuses, or simply look into each nasal cavity with a small camera called a nasal endoscope.
Once they know whether or not you have nasal polyps— and how severe they are— your doctor can get you started on the appropriate treatment.
Are Nasal Polyps Permanent?
The right treatment will reduce the severity of your symptoms and help reduce the size of your polyps. But you may be wondering— do nasal polyps go away on their own after a while?
Put simply, no, they won't. Treatment can make your symptoms less severe, but it won't remove the polyps themselves. Typically, surgery is the only option to completely remove nasal polyps, and this should only be done in severe cases.
One such surgery— polypectomy— will remove the masses from each sinus cavity. Alternatively, they can be removed via nasal endoscopy surgery.
However, it's important to note that surgery may not be a permanent solution for nasal polyps. They may grow back— which can be very frustrating if you're back to square one even after an invasive sinus surgery.
So if it's possible that they'll come back after surgery, is it possible to eliminate the possibility of nasal polyps completely? Actually yes— and as the adage goes, prevention may be the best cure.
Can You Prevent Nasal Polyps?
Yes and no. Even with the proper prevention, it won't completely eliminate the possibility that you can get them. There are a few ways to help prevent nasal polyps from developing or worsening. Here are some simple options you can try at home:
- Always take your prescribed allergy treatment as directed by your doctor.
- Dry sinuses can aggravate your nasal symptoms— use a humidifier to help keep your sinuses moisturized.
- Use a saline solution or a neti pot to rinse your nasal passages of any irritants that could cause nasal polyps.
- Allergy-proof your home to help eliminate any irritants inside that could contribute to nasal polyps.
- Use SinuSonic to help relieve nasal congestion that can potentially cause nasal polyps.
SinuSonic's unique device clears your sinuses naturally— without drugs, irrigation, or nasal sprays. The device decongests your nasal passages by using gentle pressure and light acoustic vibrations. SinuSonic's oscillating "flutter valve" provides gentle resistance as you use the device, which can help you breathe better if used consistently. All it takes is 2 minutes of use daily to breathe deeper and more freely.
How Do You Treat (Or Prevent) Nasal Polyps?
All this talk of prevention may not feel especially reassuring if you already have annoying nasal polyps. But don’t worry, they are treatable without surgery. If your symptoms are severe and becoming an active hindrance in your day-to-day life, there are some common treatments available:
- Nasal steroids taken in pill form
- Nasal steroids in the form of a nasal spray
- Injections of a medication called dupilumab— also known as Dupixent 
Breathing Problems? Follow Your Nose
It's not always easy to tell if you have nasal polyps— especially if they're small enough to be virtually undetectable. But just because they're out of sight doesn't mean they're out of mind (or nose). Large nasal polyps can lead to an obstructed airway, making it more difficult to breathe and worsening congestion. Because they don’t disappear naturally, nasal polyps will not get any better without treatment.
So if you're not breathing as well as you used to, trust your nose and contact your doctor. They'll help you get the treatment you need to shrink those nasal polyps and breathe easier.
And if you don't have nasal polyps, but are worried you may develop them, there are easy steps you can take to help prevent them!
Want to decongest your sinuses and breathe better naturally? Check out SinuSonic!
- “Paranasal Sinus Tumors.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, 18 July 2022, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/paranasal-sinus-tumors.
- "Eosinophils Defined." American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, www.aaaai.org/tools-for-the-public/allergy,-asthma-immunology-glossary/eosinophils-defined.
- Hoy, Sheridan M. "Dupilumab: A Review in Chronic Rhinosinusitis with Nasal Polyps." Drugs, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32240527/.