Polyps - causes, symptoms and treatment

Polyps - causes, symptoms and treatment

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Polyps are understood to mean mucosal growths. Accordingly, these can occur wherever there is mucous membrane in our human body, but above all in the digestive tract, in the urogenital tract and in the paranasal sinuses.


The interior of the human body is covered with mucous membrane in many places. This mucous membrane has the task of protecting organs from injuries, dirt and dehydration. This layer of skin is usually even, but there can be growths called polyps. These growths are abnormal and do not belong there. They are usually benign, but at worst, if they are in the uterus or intestines, they can degenerate.


Various causes are assumed for the development of polyps. They are often formed by recurring stimuli. These include allergies and inflammatory events, such as is the case with chronic inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease. But constant irritation from viruses and bacteria can also contribute to polyp formation. Furthermore, the mucous membrane is damaged by food intolerance. As a result, it is constantly irritated, to which the body reacts with tissue growth. Smoking, alcohol, too much sugar, fatty meals and lack of exercise are other causes. However, polyps can also be inherited, the hereditary disease "adenomatous polyposis". As part of this disease, large areas of polyps form in the large intestine.


There are no typical symptoms for polyps. Those affected do not even have to notice that these mucosal growths are in their bodies. Especially in the area of ​​the intestine and uterus, it is often a matter of chance, which is discovered in the course of an colonoscopy or a gynecological examination. If there are polyps in the nose, these are noticed much earlier, because the patients cannot breathe properly through the nose and consequently snore and possibly the sense of smell suffers.

Colon polyps

Almost 59 percent of all people over the age of 70 have polyps in the intestine, which usually occur without symptoms. However, since there is a risk that they can degenerate, they should be removed. They appear in various forms: flat, with a stem or shaggy. Sometimes these growths bleed, which is then noticed by those affected by blood in the stool. If the polyps bleed continuously, symptoms such as dizziness, anemia and weakness can occur. Slimy stool can also be a symptom. Diarrhea and abdominal cramps may then be added. The reason for this is that water and electrolytes are lost through slime production. But intestinal polyps can also lead to constipation.

Intestinal polyps - genetic causes

Getting polyps in the gut can be hereditary. This is the case, for example, with the aforementioned familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), in which a gene mutation is passed on. Most of the time, adolescents don't notice any of it, since the complaints usually only appear over the years. These are abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas, weight loss and / or bloody, slimy stools. People with FAP have an increased risk of developing colon cancer.

Examination and diagnosis - intestinal polyps

In the event of recurring stool irregularities, blood or mucus in the stool, a specialist should be consulted. Especially when there are intestinal diseases in the family. The doctor, in this case a gastroenterologist, will feel the abdomen after a detailed medical history. Sonography can detect polyps in the rectum, but only in a small section of the intestine. In order to be able to carry out a larger-scale examination, a colonoscopy (colonoscopy) is required, in which polyps can be removed. In order to examine their dignity, the removed tissue is then examined in the laboratory. Polyps that are located in the small intestine require an MRI for diagnosis.

Preventive bowel polyps

If polyps have already been found in the intestine, it is important to be examined regularly. In order to detect invisible blood in the stool, a so-called Haemoccult test is carried out as part of the preventive examination. From the age of 50, health insurance companies recommend carrying out a colonoscopy and also bear the costs. This examination should be repeated every ten years. It should be mentioned that exercise, low-fat eating and the avoidance of alcohol and nicotine have a positive effect on the prevention of polyps.

Treatment of intestinal polyps

As already mentioned, intestinal polyps can degenerate and should therefore be removed. Smaller intestinal polyps can be removed by colonoscopy; larger ones require surgery through the abdominal wall. If a piece of the intestine is severely affected, this may require the removal of a section of the intestine, which fortunately is very rare. In the case of a genetic polyposis, sufferers often have to remove large pieces of the intestine. After performing such an intervention, doctors advise you to undergo colonoscopy every three years.

Nasal polyps

So-called nasal polyps are benign mucosal growths that have their origin in the paranasal sinuses. These growths can range in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters. Spreading into the nasal cavity is possible.

The polyps in the nose, usually associated with chronic sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses), occur primarily in adulthood. Childhood nasal polyps accompany the disease cystic fibrosis or rare congenital dysfunction of the nasal mucosa, so-called ciliary dyskinesias.

Symptoms nasal polyps

In the beginning there are often no symptoms. However, when the polyps grow, there are various complaints, such as restricted nasal breathing, headache, frequent sinus infections, a nasal voice, snoring and impaired sense of smell.

Such a nasal polyp arises, as described at the beginning, by symptoms of irritation, for example by recurring inflammation or by an allergy. Patients suffering from bronchial asthma or patients with an intolerance to pain medication are more likely to develop nasal polyps.

Treatment of nasal polyps

Initially, an attempt is made to shrink the polyps using a cortisone nasal spray. If there is no success, cortisone tablets may be used. Therapies with monoclonal antibodies are still in the test phase.

If an allergy is the reason for the polyps, an antihistamine is the drug of choice and those affected should of course avoid the allergen. Hyposensitization may be recommended.

If there is no success after the previous measures, surgical removal is recommended if the patient suffers too much from the mucosal growths. For small polyps, this can be done on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia, but to a larger extent, the removal must be done under general anesthesia. In both cases, surgery is minimally invasive. If the patient is under anesthesia, the surgeon may be able to repair the sinuses at the same time. This removes further growths of the mucous membrane, enlarges the openings between the paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity and straightens the nasal septum.

The follow-up examinations after the operation are carried out by an ENT doctor. Often a cortisone nasal spray is prescribed for a while. Unfortunately, not everyone affected by polyps has surgery after surgery. Risk factors such as allergies and constant ENT infections can lead to renewed polyp formation.

Polyps in children - a common misconception

Children always have an open mouth, constant runny nose and recurrent otitis media. At the latest now the parents and the child are going to the doctor. At home, it is then said that the child has very large polyps that need to be removed, but this is only a colloquial description, since it usually means an enlarged pharynx. This consists of lymphatic tissue, which is important for defense. When this almond (and it really is only one) is enlarged, the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract tend to dry out and become susceptible to various infections, which is favored by the constantly open mouth. As a result, the children usually suffer from persistent runny nose and swelling of the lymph nodes in the angle of the jaw.

This hyperplasia of the lymphoid tissue is particularly pronounced in infancy, so that the tonsil tonsil should only be removed in extremely massive cases.

Uterine polyps

Uterine polyps can occur at any age, but they increasingly occur between the ages of 45 and 60. They are often not noticed at all and are a coincidental finding during vaginal ultrasound as part of the preventive examination. The following symptoms are possible: spotting, bleeding after sexual intercourse, cramp-like pain in the lower abdomen, painful menstruation, feeling of pressure in the abdomen, swollen lower abdomen and slimy and purulent discharge.

The real causes have not yet been fully clarified. A long-standing hormonal imbalance, recurrent inflammation in the area of ​​the uterus or vagina, chronic stress, an immune deficiency and multiple births are discussed.

The gynecologist sees the polyps as part of the vaginal ultrasound examination. If the growths are located very high in the uterus, the doctor may have a uterus mirror examination in order to better assess the mucous membrane and also to be able to remove the polyps straight away. So-called scraping is often advised, in which the endometrium is carefully scraped off and the polyps are removed. The tissue is then examined in the laboratory. Polyps must be distinguished from malignant growths. In very rare cases, this tissue can degenerate.

If affected women wish to have children, the polyps will be removed in any case, as they can stand in the way of egg implantation. During an existing pregnancy, these growths can increase the risk of premature or miscarriage.

Otherwise the wait is usually first. Just as the polyps came into being, they can disappear just like that. A progesterone preparation may be prescribed to make the polyps go away and reduce symptoms.

Help from naturopathy

Regardless of where the polyps are located in the body, naturopathy has ways and means to fight them, especially since this is also possible in addition to conventional medical therapy. In any case, a doctor should be consulted in advance for clarification.

If the tissue growths in the abdominal cavity, anthroposophic preparations are injected subcutaneously into the abdominal skin (i.e. above the site of the event) two to three times a week. Anthroposophic medicine also provides means for oral use in the presence of polyps. Acupuncture is also used. Schüssler salts, such as No. 2 Calcium phosphoricum, No. 4 Kalium chloratum, No. 6 Kalium sulfuricum, No. 22 Calcium carbonicum and, in the presence of polyps in the uterus, No. 25 Aurum muriaticum natronatum must be tried in any case .

A homeopathic medical history, in which a medication is developed, is also a good option for treating polyps. Complex agents containing loofah, hydrastis, eupatorium and sodium chloratum are helpful for nasal polyps. If the mucosal growths are in the intestine, mixtures of Arsenicum album, Helleborus, Acidum phosphoricum, Viola tricolor and Magnesium carbonicum help. A complex agent containing Hydrastis, Lilium tigrum, Alchemilla, Arnica and Lamium album is worth trying in uterine polyps. In persistent cases, graphites, bellis perennis, ferrum metallicum and thuja are indicated.


Polyps are usually benign. However, if they form in the intestine or in the uterus, in the worst case they can degenerate. Colon polyps in particular should also be removed as part of the mirroring. In the case of uterine polyps, a few cycles are usually waited for because the growths often develop due to hormone fluctuations and can also disappear on their own. (sw)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


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Video: What Are Colon Polyps? (December 2022).