Aspirin is known to cause asthma in those who are allergic to the drug, but the number of such people seems to be much higher than previously thought.
Aspirin is known to cause asthma in those who are allergic to the drug, but the number of such people seems to be much higher than previously thought. New research suggests that the rate of aspirin-induced asthma among adult asthmatics is 21 percent. Previous reports have indicated that the rate of this condition is as low as 4 percent, Dr. Christine Jenkins, from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Camperdown, Australia, and colleagues note in the British Medical Journal. Simply asking patients about aspirin sensitivity produces much lower estimates than evaluating them with tests. The new estimate is based on an analysis of data from 21 studies that recorded the rate of aspirin-induced asthma, based on provocation testing. The researchers report that their review showed that 21 percent of adults and 5 percent of children with asthma have a sensitivity to aspirin. When the prevalence was determined with verbal history alone, the corresponding estimates were only 3 and 2 percent. Patients with aspirin-induced asthma were nearly always sensitive to other related drugs, such as naproxen, ibuprofen, and diclofenac. In contrast, only 7 percent of aspirin-sensitive patients experienced a reaction to Tylenol (acetaminophen). “When there is a clinical necessity to use aspirin or (related drugs) and there is uncertainty about safety, (sensitivity) testing should be performed,” the investigators advise. (SOURCE: Medline Plus, British Medical Journal, Feb, 2004)