Sudbury woman raising awareness of disease affecting people with asthma
Aspirin Exacerbated Respiratory Disease includes a potentially fatal reaction to aspirin
A Sudbury woman is hoping to spread awareness of a disease that can manifest in many adults with asthma and result in a serious or even deadly reaction to aspirin.
Kelly Beaton discovered she had Aspirin Exacerbated Respiratory Disease, also known as AERD or Samter's, when she was in university.
She had developed asthma later in life and began to experience what she thought were allergy symptoms.
"And then I had a reaction when I took an ibuprofen and had just sneezing, like an acute hay fever reaction, immediately, for hours," she recalled.
Beaton quickly connected her reaction to the drug and that's when a friend in medical school told her about the "Samter's Triad."
People with AERD experience a triad of conditions: asthma, nasal polyps and sensitivity to aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
"They estimate that about 7 to 10 people out of every hundred who have asthma in adulthood have AERD," she said.
While the cause of AERD in unknown, some treatments for the disease are available.
Beaton has had five sinus surgeries to remove her recurring nasal polyps since her diagnosis.
She has also undergone aspirin therapy, which involves desensitizing patients to aspirin by carefully administering small doses over time.
Online community a 'lifesaver'
For some with the disease, taking aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories can be life-threatening.
"We have a very active Facebook group and also a website for the Samter's Society and many of those people have had reactions where they ended up in the ER and even in the ICU unable to breathe," Beaton said.
The online community of people with AERD has been a "lifesaver" for Beaton.
In addition to the array of health concerns, she said the disease can also have a social impact.
"When you're in your twenties and dating and getting out there, it wasn't much fun, having to explain why I need to carry a box of kleenex everywhere I go," she said.
"Most people with AERD also react to alcohol, so you aren't able to have that glass of wine in a social situation, and you find yourself trying to explain why."
Beaton is helping to launch the very first awareness day for AERD on September 26, with the goal of handing out packaged to the medical community and raising public awareness.