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What are the causes of nasal polyps?

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Quick Answer

Scientists have not determined what causes nasal polyps, according to Mayo Clinic. For those who are prone to experiencing nasal polyps, they result from inflammation in the mucous membranes in the nose and sinuses, but the cause of this inflammation in unknown. There has been some evidence to suggest that individuals prone to nasal polyps have a different immune response and that there are different chemical markers in their mucous membranes.

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Full Answer

Conditions that cause chronic inflammation in the nasal passageways, such as sinus infections and allergies, can increase the likelihood of nasal polyp formation. There are a number of risk factors nasal polyps including asthma, aspirin sensitivity, cystic fibrosis and allergic fungal sinusitis. Nasal polyps are most likely to occur in young to middle-aged adults and in the portion of the nasal passageway known as the ostiomeatal complex, states Mayo Clinic.

Nasal polyps can be harmful because they block airflow and drainage of the sinuses, resulting in conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea or an increased likelihood of infections that can spread throughout the sinuses and to the eye socket. Infections in the sinuses can sometimes spread to the fluid and membranes of the brain and spinal cord where they cause meningitis, according to Mayo Clinic.

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