What is it like living with AERD?

Published Online: April 7, 2015

Aspirin exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD) is defined as adult onset of asthma, nasal polyps, chronic rhinosinusitis, and reaction to aspirin. The method for diagnosing AERD is with an aspirin challenge, and treatment includes aspirin desensitization followed by continued daily aspirin use. A diagnosis of AERD is often life changing for patients, yet little is known about how exactly this disease has changed their life and how AERD patients feel about the current therapies.

In an article recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Ta and White surveyed patients with AERD, asking about their quality of life, and how they feel about current AERD treatments.

Among patients who responded to the survey, chronic nasal symptoms (43%) and a decreased sense of smell (39%) were reported to have had the greatest impact on quality of life. Those who lost their ability to smell reported that they missed the enjoyment of food and eating the most (34%). Most patients felt that aspirin therapy was the most beneficial treatment of all of the medications that they had been on—yet 54% had not undergone aspirin therapy for a variety of reasons, including concerns about taking aspirin long term (45%), the safety of aspirin desensitization (27%), their physician never recommending it (19%), and the cost of the procedure (9%). A minority indicated that a combination of medications (aspirin, leukotriene receptor antagonist, zileuton, or omalizumab) was more effective than one alone.

Based on these results, living with AERD is frustrating, as a majority of the survey respondents expressed. One of the most frustrating symptoms appeared to be loss of sense of smell and inability to enjoy eating. Also, notably, despite the fact that aspirin is the most effective treatment for AERD, many patients have not undergone aspirin desensitization. Hopefully this study will help bring increased awareness of questions being asked by the AERD community and therapeutic avenues worthy of further exploration.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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