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Discover the unexplained link between a mysterious respiratory disease and Aspirin


(NaturalNews) At 16, Allison Fite continually fell asleep in class but did not know why. What's more, it quickly became obvious that the traditional medical community couldn't figure it out, either.

As reported by NPR, doctors told her she was suffering from a severe sinus infection that never really went away. For the next 10 years, she struggled with multiple infections, and was constantly taking antibiotics and decongestants.

"Having these sinus problems and not being able to breathe was debilitating," she told the public network.

Now 27, Fite and doctors just couldn't figure out why that cycle kept repeating itself. Her doctors told her she had allergies, but "then the tests would come back and they'd be like, 'Huh. You don't have allergies,'" she said.

It was a few unusual symptoms that finally led to an answer: Fite had a little-known disease that is shared by just 1 to 1.5 million Americans: Asthma, a loss of smell and taste, and a strong adverse reaction to alcohol.

"Before I could finish [a drink], I started to get these really bad headaches," she told NPR. "I really am allergic to fun."

'OK stop; she has the disease'

She had also developed nasal polyps, which are benign but grow in sinus cavities. At age 20, she had them surgically removed for the first time, but by age 25 she had to fly back from Thailand, where she was living at the time, for another operation.

After that second procedure, the polyps returned again, but after only eight weeks.

"I was seeing a doctor in Bangkok at this point," Fite said. "He was like, 'This is not normal.' " He did, however, mention that aspirin can cause nasal polyps, and it was her first real clue into her illness: Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease, or AERD. The disease was first discovered early in the 20th century, says Dr. Tanya Laidlaw, an immunologist at Brigham and Woman's Hospital in Boston, where she studies the disease. It is seen in "patients who had this triad of asthma, nasal polyps and these rather idiosyncratic reactions to medications like aspirin," she told NPR.

After learning about the condition from her mother, who sent her one of Laidlaw's presentations on the illness online, Fite went to see her doctor in Thailand again, who decided to test her. He gave her one-fifth of an aspirin tablet and watched her.

"Forty-five minutes later," Fite said, "I'm sitting in this hospital waiting room coughing, sweating, and my blood pressure spiked. And they're like, 'OK, stop. Give her medicine; she has the disease.'"

Happy to finally have learned what the problem really was, Fite next learned that she needed a treatment called aspirin desensitization – when a patient is overloaded with a large dose of aspirin. And her Bangkok doctor had never done it before.

"He was like, 'I don't feel comfortable doing it, and I don't think you'll find a doctor in Asia that is,'" Fite said.

Aspirin for life

She left Thailand once more and visited Laidlaw's clinic in Boston to have the procedure done. The doctor told NPR that she isn't sure why the treatment works and neither is anyone else, but it does desensitize the patient to aspirin and helps to alleviate the symptoms.

For her part, Laidlaw said she's frustrated there isn't more awareness about AERD. And she said she believes at least 20 percent of people who have it have never been diagnosed.

An immunologist at Boston Children's Hospital, Dr. Ana Broyles, said it probably gets missed a lot by primary care providers because they don't specialize in immunology or ear, nose and throat medicine.

But there is also a serious lack of science surrounding the illness. Laidlaw says that when she began studying it about 10 years ago, there had barely even been any basic research conducted on the condition over the previous century.

For her part, Fite is doing much better following the desensitization procedure, having had only one sinus infection over the past year. But she says she has to take aspirin now for the rest of her life, to keep up the desensitization, and that could be dangerous.

"Say I get in an accident, and I bleed too much because of the aspirin," she said.





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