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Aspirin Sensitivity

Some people are allergic to aspirin. Others have a non-allergic sensitivity to it. When they take aspirin, they have symptoms -- sometimes dangerous ones -- even though it’s not an allergy.  

People with aspirin sensitivity also often react to other NSAID drugs, such as:

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  • Advil, Motrin, Nuprin (ibuprofen)
  • Actron, Orudis, Oruvail (ketoprofen)
  • Aleve, Anaprox (naproxen)

Aspirin Sensitivity Symptoms

If you have aspirin sensitivity, taking aspirin or other NSAIDs may cause:

  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Swelling of  the mouth or throat
  • Headache
  • Stuffiness or runny nose
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping

Asthma and Nasal Polyps

Aspirin sensitivity can go along with other conditions. One combination of problems is called Samter's  triad. It refers to:

  • Reactions to aspirin and NSAIDs
  • Asthma
  • Growths in the nasal passages, called polyps, that can cause nasal passage and sinus problems

Experts aren't sure why these problems tend to show up together. The combination goes by other names, too -- aspirin triad, and aspirin-sensitive asthma.

About 3% to 5% of people with asthma have aspirin sensitivity. Samter's triad is more common in women and symptoms often start in a person's 30s.

Samter's triad causes lasting stuffiness, watery eyes, loss of smell, cough, and other problems. It can also trigger sudden, severe asthma attacks that need emergency treatment.

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