The role of aspirin desensitization in the management of aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease

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Purpose of review

Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD) is a progressive inflammatory disease of the upper and lower airways characterized by marked eosinophilic nasal polyposis, asthma, and respiratory reactions to medications that inhibit the cyclooxygenase pathway. Aspirin desensitization has proven to be an effective tool in the management of this disease when used in a multidisciplinary setting. The purpose of this article is to review the current literature regarding AERD, aspirin desensitization, and share our opinion regarding the most optimal multidisciplinary approach to these complex patients.

Recent findings

Numerous studies, including randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, have demonstrated the therapeutic effectiveness of aspirin desensitization with significant improvement in number of sinus infections per year, olfactory scores, nasal symptom scores, asthma symptom scores, sinus operations, hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and oral steroid use. Furthermore, the role of surgery is becoming increasingly important for recalcitrant sinus disease with recent studies showing comprehensive surgery as more beneficial to disease management.


Aspirin desensitization is an effective therapeutic tool in the management of AERD. A multidisciplinary approach is critical between the otorhinolaryngologist and allergist to provide the most optimal care for this complex patient population.

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