Three Things You Need To Know About Aspirin-Induced Asthma

You probably already know that allergens like pet dander and dust mites can trigger your asthma symptoms, but, surprisingly, some medications can do the same thing. Aspirin is a common anti-inflammatory drug, and it can trigger asthma symptoms. This phenomenon is known as aspirin-induced asthma, and it affects about 10% of adults with asthma. Here are three things you need to know about aspirin-induced asthma.

What are the signs of aspirin-induced asthma?

In people with aspirin-induced asthma, an asthma attack occurs after ingesting aspirin. In addition to the usual asthma attack symptoms—severe wheezing, coughing, or tightness in your chest—you may get a stuffed up nose, irritated eyes or redness on the skin of your face and neck.

The asthma attacks that are triggered by aspirin can be life-threatening, so prompt medical attention is very important if you suffer an attack. One study reported that a whopping one-quarter of people who needed to be put on a ventilator following a severe asthma attack were sensitive to aspirin.

How is aspirin-induced asthma diagnosed?

If you think that aspirin is triggering your asthma symptoms, see your allergist. They may be able to diagnose your condition based on your history of ingesting aspirin and then suffering an asthma attack, but since other factors can also trigger asthma, they may want to perform an oral aspirin challenge.

During an oral aspirin challenge, your allergist will have you ingest aspirin under their supervision. These doses are given in 90 minute to two hour intervals. Your allergist will closely monitor you to see if you have a reaction, and the test can take between five and eight hours. This test may sound simple, but don't try to do it by yourself at home.

How is aspirin-induced asthma managed?

If you have aspirin-induced asthma, you need to avoid aspirin completely. This can be challenging because many different drugs contain aspirin. Some medications that contain aspirin may list the words acetylsalicylate, salicylic, or acetylsalicylic acid instead. Other types of products, like acne creams or wart removers, may also include these ingredients. Always check the label before you take a medication to avoid inadvertently ingesting allergens.

Your allergist may prescribe medications to help keep your asthma under control, such as inhaled corticosteroids. You may also be prescribed a rescue inhaler for fast relief of your asthma symptoms.

If you suffer from asthma, your symptoms may be triggered by ingesting aspirin. If you're worried about aspirin-induced asthma, see a professional like Gail Cookingham M.D.