Aspirin Exacerbated Respiratory Disease (AERD) is a condition that occurs as a result of extreme sensitivity to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. If a patient takes a drug like ibuprofen or aspirin to relieve some type of pain and feels even worse afterwards, they may have AERD.
Unfortunately, AERD is not uncommon among those with asthma or nasal polyps. AERD often leads to upper respiratory problems including nasal congestion, persistent nasal polyps, watery eyes, sinus pain, and sneezing. It can also cause lower respiratory issues such as coughing, wheezing, and tightness in the chest.
Aspirin Desensitization for AERD
While there is no cure for AERD, there are ways to manage it. Aspirin desensitization is one of the most effective treatment options for AERD. Although there are various protocols, most of them involve taking gradual increases of aspirin until a patient can tolerate regular strength aspirin.
Prior to the treatment, patients will be asked to refrain from the use of antihistamines or decongestants for 48 hours. They can continue to take their asthma medications but should stay away from any bronchodilator for 8 hour before.
At minimum, patients will need to take 325 mg of aspirin each day. Once the treatment is over, a high dose of aspirin will be required so they can reap the full benefits. If necessary, aspirin desensitization can be put on hold for 24 to 48 hours. However, if it is stopped for any longer, the process may need to be repeated.
Some patients are hesitant to participate in aspirin desensitization because they are worried about severe side effects from aspirin. The good news is that most patients only notice minor symptoms during the treatment. It's been performed for over three decades and shown to provide many benefits to patients with AERD.
Benefits of Aspirin Desensitization
After undergoing aspirin desensitization, patients often enjoy reduced reliance on oral steroids. Those with asthma notice an improvement in symptoms and virtually every patient finds that their smell and taste has improved. Aspirin desensitization also improves nasal polyps and diminishes the need for surgery. Patients can finally take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and find relief from pain.
Aspirin Desensitization is an Outpatient, Multi-Day Treatment
It's important to note that aspirin desensitization must be performed in an outpatient setting over the course of a few days so that patients can be treated for reactions right away. Nasal sprays, oral medication, and injections may all be used any time reactions arise. If you believe you could benefit from aspirin desensitization, don't hesitate to consult your ENT doctor.