Some people are allergic to aspirin. Others have what doctors call a non-allergic sensitivity to it. That means when they take the drug, they have symptoms -- sometimes dangerous ones -- but they don’t have an allergy.
People with this condition sometimes have problems with other similar meds for pain. These common medications are part of a group called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs:
Allergies affect more than 50 million people in the United States -- the poor souls who sniffle, sneeze, and get all clogged up when face to face with the allergen (or allergens) that set them off.
For many, allergies are seasonal and mild, requiring nothing more than getting extra tissue or taking a decongestant occasionally. For others, the allergy is to a known food, and as long as they avoid the food, no problem.
But for legions of others adults, allergies are so severe it interferes with...
Growths in your nasal passages, called polyps, that can cause problems with your sinuses
Experts aren't sure why these problems show up together. About 3% to 5% of people with asthma have aspirin sensitivity. Samter's triad is more common in women. Symptoms often start when you’re in your 30s.
Along with lasting stuffiness, you’ll notice watery eyes, a cough, and other problems. You might lose your sense of smell. Some people have sudden, severe asthma attacks that need emergency treatment.
How to Manage Aspirin Problems
Get help for emergencies. If you have sudden symptoms -- like swelling, trouble breathing, or wheezing -- call 911 or go to the emergency room. These reactions can be life-threatening.
Don’t take it or other NSAIDs. If you have asthma and nasal polyps, your doctor may tell you to skip these meds as a precaution -- even if you've never had problems before.
Keep an eye out for aspirin. Look for it in unexpected places. Lots of remedies for colds, the flu, coughs, stomach problems, and other conditions contain it or another NSAID. You may even find it in cosmetics, soap, shampoos, and skin cleaners.
Control your symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe steroids depending on how much of a problem you have. If you have asthma, take your medicine to keep it under control.