Aspirin Desensitization

If your asthma symptoms increase after you use medications like aspirin or other NSAIDs like ibuprofen or Aleve, you may have a condition called, Aspirin exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD). Often, this is associated with nasal symptoms as well including multiple episodes of sinus infections or nasal polyposis.

The most effective known treatment for AERD is aspirin therapy once you become desensitized to aspirin, a procedure that can be done by a board-certified allergist.

Many studies have shown that after aspirin desensitization and daily aspirin treatment, the majority of patients with AERD have:

  • Improvement in asthma symptoms and fewer asthma attacks
  • Less requirement for medication to treat respiratory symptoms
  • Improvement in sense of smell and taste
  • Delayed regrowth of nasal polyps and fewer polyp surgeries

How is Aspirin Desensitization done?

It is generally performed in an outpatient clinic setting over a course of one to two or more days. You will initially be given a very low dose of aspirin, and gradually higher doses are given every 60-120 minutes while you are closely monitored. This is done until you reach a high dose of Aspirin.

You may exhibit symptoms during this procedure so the process is individualized based on how you respond. During the procedure we evaluate and monitor your lung function using spirometry. We will give you treatment to help control your symptoms which may include:

  • Increased nasal congestion or stuffiness
  • Eye tearing, watering, itchiness or redness
  • Frontal headache or sensation of sinus pain
  • Headache or facial pain/pressure
  • Cough, wheezing, or “tightness” in chest

It is a procedure that can be done safely even if you have had a severe reaction after taking aspirin or an NSAID. You will be closely observed throughout the process and treatments are designed to quickly reverse your symptoms.

After desensitization, you will maintain on a regimen of aspirin every day. You may become re-sensitized to aspirin if you discontinue taking it daily so it is important to take aspirin every day for this treatment.