Often, people with colon polyps cannot feel them at all, but they can cause pain and nausea, according to Mayo Clinic. They can also indirectly cause feelings of tiredness and shortness of breath by causing iron deficiency anemia. Other possible symptoms include bloody stools, constipation or diarrhea.
Colon polyps are just lumps of cells that form on the inner surface of the colon, but there are several types with different characteristics, Mayo Clinic says. The major reason they cause concern is that they are associated with colon cancer. Adenomatous polyps usually do not progress into cancer, but they constitute the vast majority of malignant polyps. Serrated polyps vary in their cancer risk according to their location, with those in the upper colon posing the greatest threat. Inflammatory polyps form because of inflammatory conditions that damage the colon, but they do not pose a cancer risk.
Colon polyps are more likely to occur in people with conditions including inflammatory bowel disorders, obesity, tobacco use, alcohol consumption and Type 2 diabetes, according to Mayo Clinic. Being over 50 years old and family health histories can also increase the risk of colon polyps. Genetic conditions that cause colon polyps include Lynch syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis and Gardener's syndrome.