Allergic Reactions To Aspirin


Aspirin is a drug that is often used to relieve minor aches and pains, reduce fever and cure inflammations. It also reduces the occurrence of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots if taken in small doses over a long period of time. This is because it inhibits the production of thromboxane which prevents the platelets from combining together stopping the formation of blood clots.

Due to this ability to cure more than one ailment, aspirin is one of the most used drugs worldwide. It can be used by patients of all ages and all races. However, despite success in curing many ailments several patients are usually bound to suffer from aspirin side effects, and a small portion of those people may suffer from aspirin allergy whenever they ingest the drug.

Aspirin allergies are happen due to hypersensitivity of the body to aspirin. About 1% of the general population suffers from aspirin allergy. It is estimated that 10% of asthma patients may have their symptoms worsened due to aspirin allergy. If a patient has asthma also has chronic sinusitis or nasal polyps, the chance of aspirin allergy increases to 40 percent.

Aspirin exacerbated respiratory disease

A condition called Aspirin exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD) shows symptoms that include one or more of: asthma, aspirin sensitivity, and rhinitis/nasal polyps. Patients suffering from this condition are susceptible to develop those symptoms after ingestion of aspirin and other nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Aspirin exacerbated respiratory disease is responsible for 10% to 15% of all cases of asthma.

There are several symptoms of this allergy. Most of them are easy to detect since they normally appear 30 minutes post drug ingestion.

Other Allergies

There are two types of allergies. The first type is the mild allergies. As the name suggests they are usually not very serious and can be dealt with easily [1]. Some of them include:

  • Itching and skin rash    
  • Runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Stomach upset
  • Swelling in the limbs
  • Headaches

The other type is severe allergies. These allergies might grow serious enough to cause a life threatening condition called “Anaphylactic shock”. The symptoms vary according to the degree of hypersensitivity and they may vary from a person to another. They include:

  • Chest pains
  • Fainting
  • Difficulty in breathing and Wheezing,
  • Facial and mouth swelling
  • Vomiting and racing pulse,
  • Low blood pressure and finally organ system failure. [2]

Identifying and avoiding a drug allergy

It is important that the people who experience allergies after using aspirin learn about the different possible ways of prevention. These prevention methods help the patients to identify drugs that contain the substance they are allergic to, and either avoid using them, or ask for medical advice from a doctor before using them.

The ways of prevention include:

  • Paying close attention to all the medication that one uses. The patient should check the medication labels and avoid any drug that contains salicylates. This chemical is also present in some cosmetics.
  • Taking medicine as directed and prescribed by the doctor. This ensures that he aspirin dose is not too high to have a negative effect on the body.
  • Taking an antihistamine in case some allergic symptoms emerge after taking medicine. The antihistamine controls some of the allergy symptoms so as to ensure that the allergic symptoms do not get worse.
  • Learning to use an epinephrine syringe for the treatment of the anaphylactic reaction. This knowledge can be lifesaving.
  • Wearing a Medic-Alert® bracelet to notify emergency personnel of their condition in the event they are unable to communicate whenever they go out. This method and the use of the epinephrine syringe can be of great importance when it comes to treating severe allergy cases during emergencies.
  • Allergy prevention methods also include a procedure called desensitization procedure [3] performed by an immunologist.

By following these preventive measures patients can easily manage their condition without worsening it by the occurrence of allergies.


[1]Szczeklik A, Stevenson DD. Aspirin-induced asthma: advances in pathogenesis and management. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1999; 104: 5–13.

[2]Settipane GA. Aspirin sensitivity and allergy. Biomed Pharmacother. 1988; 42: 493–498.

[3]Pleskow WW, Stevenson DD, Mathison DA, et al. Aspirin desensitization in aspirin-sensitive asthmatic patients: clinical manifestations and characterization of the refractory period. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1982; 69 (1 Pt 1): 11–19.

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