Aspirin Desensitization

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This aspirin intolerance is usually seen in patients with chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps, and asthma. Symptoms of these respiratory reactions include wheezing, sneezing, eye watering and sometimes skin sensations/rash. Some reports show fatal reactions to aspirin and ibuprofen.

The process of aspirin desensitization involves a medical facility where emergency treatments are readily available. Initially, nasal sprays administer small doses of ketorolac(an aspirin like drug). At intervals between 1-2 hours apart, doctors give you increasing doses followed by high doses of aspirin by mouth. Intravenous or nebulizer medications treat any reactions. The process typically takes 2 days. Alternatively, some patients need are kept in the hospital longer. After the patient completes desensitization, they continue to take aspirin daily with no discontinuation more than 2 days.

Aspirin Desensitization Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does Aspirin Desensitization Take?

This procedure takes the full day over two or three days for each session. Discuss with your physician about preparation for this treatment.

How Will I Know If I Am Sensitive to Aspirin?

Patients that are sensitive to aspirin may show the following symptoms:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Shortness of Breath or wheezing
  • Worsening of nasal/sinus symptoms

Is Aspirin Desensitization Safe?

Aspirin desensitization is a safe process when done in a controlled medical environment. 

What Are Some Risks of Aspirin Desensitization?

Some risks associated from daily aspirin therapy may include abdominal pain or bleeding of the stomach or stomach ulcers. Other symptoms could include:

  • Nasal Congestion
  • Runny Nose
  • Tightness in the Throat
  • Stomach Pain
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Hives
  • Rarely, a Drop in Blood Pressure

Your doctor will assess your risks of aspirin desensitization.

What Are the Benefits of Aspirin Desensitization?

Some benefits of aspirin desensitization include:

  • Decreased nasal congestion 
  • Fewer nasal polyps 
  • Less medication (especially steroids like prednisone) to control polyps and asthma 
  • Fewer sinus surgeries 
  • Reduced asthma attacks 
  • Less sinus infections 
  • Improved sense of smell 
  • Improved quality of life

What Is Aspirin Desensitization Treatment?

Aspirin desensitization is an effective therapy that treats the underlying cause of aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease. The procedure consists of introducing gradually increasing doses of aspirin in a controlled medical environment.

What is Aspirin-Exacerbated Respiratory Disease (AERD)?

Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD) is a condition that includes chronic asthma, sinusitis with nasal polyps, and sensitivity to aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen and Naproxen. Patients with this condition can experience mild to severe respiratory symptoms for aspirin-related medications. 

What Should I Expect During Aspirin Desensitization?

At the beginning of the treatment, a patient will be given a low dose of aspirin. This dose is then gradually increased about an hour and a half to three hours after the first dose. However, this may differ for each patient depending on the symptoms and severity of their reactions to aspirin. 

Who is Not a Candidate for Aspirin Desensitization?

Aspirin desensitization is not for:

  • Patients who had aspirin-induced hives or anaphylaxis that don’t require daily aspirin therapy for treatment of other conditions.
  • Women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant.

Who Should Consider Aspirin Desensitization?

Aspirin desensitization should be considered in patients who require long-term therapy for cardiovascular indications.