Patients with AERD may lose their sense of smell.

Patients with AERD may lose their sense of smell.

Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD), also known as Samter’s triad or aspirin-sensitive asthma, is a chronic medical condition that affects patients with asthma. Along with asthma, patients with AERD also experience recurrent sinus disease with nasal polyps, loss of sense of smell, and sensitivity to aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). AERD affects about seven percent of all adults with asthma, or about a million patients in the United States. Because each of these symptoms may be treated by different physicians, many AERD patients may remain undiagnosed for years.

Once diagnosed, patients with AERD can be desensitized to aspirin, which eventually becomes a therapy. The desensitization procedure, which takes place under the supervision of a physician, begins with giving AERD patients a very small dose of aspirin. The dose is gradually increased over the course of a day. Patients are monitored carefully and treated when they exhibit reactions. Gradually, patients become tolerant of aspirin. Once this happens, patients can take high-dose aspirin as a daily therapy to prevent their nasal polyps from growing back.

In the video below, Tanya M. Laidlaw, MD, Director of the AERD Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), further explains how AERD patients are evaluated, diagnosed, and desensitized to aspirin and related medications. Dr. Laidlaw also describes ongoing clinical trials at BWH that are evaluating new approaches to managing AERD symptoms, including the use of anti-platelet medications and dietary modifications.

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– Jamie R.

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