Posted on: April 21, 2016 at 11:36 am
Last updated: July 13, 2020 at 4:16 pm

It’s one of the most widely researched and used drugs in the world. There’s a good chance you’ve taken it at one point in your life. And now, there’s a good reason as to why you should get yourself checked if you’ve been having unexplained severe sinus infections.  This drug is aspirin.


Uses of Aspirin

Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or an NSAID. If you’ve been following The Hearty Soul, you’ll know we’re not fans of NSAIDs especially when you’ve got alternatives like this spice. Aspirin is used to reduce fevers, treat pain, cold symptoms and headaches. It is also popularly prescribed as a blood thinner and treatment to prevent heart disease.

Aspirin has deep-roots within history. In the 5th century BC, the Greek physician Hippocrates wrote about the pain relieving bitter powder extracted from willow bark. Well, this very extract, salicylic acid, is the main medicinal ingredient in aspirin. If you experience acne, salicylic acid may sound familiar to you. Salicylic acid is also found in many acne treatments.


However, as aspirin its use isn’t without side effects. Numerous studies have found that, as a result of aspirin’s side effects, its regular use isn’t actually a good way to prevent heart disease. These side effects include:

  • Increased risk of stomach bleeding and bleeding in the brain
  • The thinning of your digestive lining
  • Ulcers as a result of a weakened lining
  • Greater risk of kidney failure
  • Hearing loss, cataracts and blindness

And to add to this list, aspirin causes this nasal disease you may not have known about.

What is AERD

Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD) goes under many names. Among them, are Samter’s triad and aspirin-induced asthma. First identified by Dr. Samter, this triad involves experiencing asthma, aspirin sensitivity and nasal polyps.

Symptoms of AERD

Aside from the triad, there are a number of symptoms that arise when someone experiences AERD. These include nasal congestion, sinus infections, a loss of smell and taste, and an adverse reaction to alcohol. Further symptoms occur when someone with AERD takes aspirin or another NSAID.


These include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Redness of the eyes and watering
  • Coughing or chest tightness
  • A frontal headache
  • Flushing and/or a rash
  • Nausea and/or abdominal cramping
  • Discomfort, sometimes with dizziness

Why it Gets Missed

Each part of the triad of AERD are often diagnosed separately. One woman, Allison Fite suffered from AERD for decades! She was first diagnosed with a severe sinus infection at the age of 16. When she developed nasal polyps a few years later, she had them surgically removed. It wasn’t until later in her life that a doctor made the connection between her experiences.

One of the biggest reasons why this illness goes past doctors unnoticed is a lack of awareness within the medical practice. Dr. Laidlaw, whose clinic treated Allison, estimates that at least 20% of people who have AERD aren’t diagnosed. When the doctor looking at these individual cases isn’t a specialist in immunology, it’s unlikely that they will know about AERD.

As it stands, one of the only effective treatments at the moment is aspirin desensitization which involves treating a patient with increasing doses of aspirin until their body no longer reacts to the drug. Studies have found strong evidence that supports the safety and effectiveness of desensitization to treat AERD. The studies found that desensitization reduced nasal congestion, sinus infections, polyp formation and the need for surgery.

This treatment includes a lifetime continuing dose of aspirin. There may not be enough awareness and research around AERD, but we definitely know the harmful effects of taking aspirin regularly. If you think you have been experiencing AERD, visit your healthcare practitioner. This is a serious illness that can impact your whole life. Share this article with friends and family and get the word out about this often-missed disease.


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