Don’t Take Two Aspirin! (You may not be alive to call in the morning.)
What do asthma, acute rhinitis, and aspirin sensitivity all have in common? Together they are known as Samter’s Triad. Max Samter, M.D., F.A.C.P.; and Ray F. Beers Jr., M.D. published their findings linking aspirin sensitivity to an allergic type response and asthma in 1968. The summary of their findings includes the following, “Angioedema and rhinitis, nasal polyposis, and bronchial asthma of aspirin-sensitive patients are acquired diseases that develop, as a rule, after middle age in predominantly nonatopic (non allergic) patients. In many instances, nasal and bronchial symptoms precede the development of intolerance to aspirin by months or even by years.”1 Since that time much has been discovered. Samter’s Triad, now known as Aspirin Exacerbated Respiratory Disease (AERD), “is a chronic medical condition that consists of asthma, recurrent sinus disease with nasal polyps, and a sensitivity to aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)” and is estimated to affect “approximately 10% of all adults with asthma”.2 According to Dr. Thomas Chacko, Board Certified Pediatric and Adult Allergist/Immunologist, due to “the lack of research and awareness regarding the condition…nearly 20 percent of cases go undiagnosed.”3 My own AERD is still undiagnosed. I now have a referral to see an allergist. I had to uncover the cause of my symptoms myself even after multiple visits with several physicians. I have all three of the classic symptoms in the triad. The thing that really cinches it for me is the headache I had a few years ago that landed me in the ER sucking on the business end of a nebulizer. More on that story next time.