Understanding the Difference Between Polyps and Sinusitis

Maybe there are some of us who don't really understand the difference between polyps and sinusitis. This is reasonable because these two conditions have similar complaints. However, complaints that occur in polyps and sinusitis are actually based on very different causes.

The most obvious difference between polyps and sinusitis is the form of the disease. Nasal polyps are soft lumps that can grow in the nasal passages or sinuses. Meanwhile, sinusitis is inflammation of the sinus walls. The sinuses are cavities next to the nose and on the forehead.

Symptoms that can occur in both conditions include nasal congestion, runny nose, a slimy back of the throat, decreased sense of smell, pain or pressure on the face, and headaches.

Difference Between Polyps and Sinusitis

The following is a complete explanation of the differences between polyps and sinusitis:

Nasal polyps

Nasal polyps can grow when there is inflammation of the lining of the nasal passages or sinus walls. There are many triggers for the growth of polyps, including sinus infections, allergic rhinitis, or heredity. Soft lumps that are shaped like teardrops are generally not malignant.

Complaints that occur due to nasal polyps are usually felt if the size of the polyp is large enough. Large polyps can block the flow of air into the nasal cavity and sinuses. As a result, air cannot reach the olfactory area at the top of the nasal cavity and the function of smell is reduced or lost (anosmia).

In addition, the flow of mucus that should naturally flow from the sinuses to the nasal cavity can also be blocked. As a result, mucus builds up in the sinuses or flows down the back of the throat. If this continues, over time the nasal cavity can also become inflamed (rhinitis).


Sinusitis is a condition when the sinus walls become inflamed. Sinusitis can be caused by many things, including viral infections, bacterial infections, fungal infections, allergies, or dry air.

When they become inflamed, the walls of the sinuses will swell and close the openings where sinus mucus should come out. As a result, mucus that should line and protect the nasal cavity accumulates in the sinus cavity. This is what causes complaints of pain or pressure on the face.

Just as happens with nasal polyps, obstruction of the flow of mucus from the sinuses can make the nasal cavity lose its lubrication and eventually become inflamed. This inflammation can spread to the olfactory area and make olfactory function decline.

From the explanation above, we can clearly see the difference between polyps and sinusitis, but we can also see the relationship between the two.

Nasal polyps and sinusitis can both be the cause and effect of each other. Nasal polyps that are not treated properly can cause the flow of mucus from the sinuses to become blocked and build up. This can then lead to sinusitis.

Likewise with sinusitis. Inflammation of the sinus walls that does not improve over a long period of time (chronic sinusitis) can also increase the risk of developing nasal polyps.

However, these two conditions can occur without the influence of other conditions. Nasal polyps can occur without sinusitis, and vice versa.

Polyps and Sinusitis Prevention Steps

Although the difference between polyps and sinusitis is very basic, the prevention of these two conditions is almost the same. There are several things that can be done as a step to prevent polyps and sinusitis, including:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
  • Reduce contact with people who have the flu.
  • Avoid things that can trigger allergies, such as cigarette smoke and dust.
  • Use humidifier to keep the humidity in the room.

If you feel you have symptoms of polyps or sinusitis as above, it's a good idea to immediately consult a doctor. That way, you can get the right examination and treatment, according to your condition.