[228] Severe Aspirin Induced Asthma (January 2003)

'I have Samter's Triad syndrome, also known as Aspirin Induced Asthma (AIA). About 10 per cent of people with Samter’s syndrome also get urticaria (hives) and/or angioedema (swelling of the lips, tongue, neck etc). Angioedema can be so severe as to cause death by suffocation, so it is considered a medical emergency.

'Samter’s syndrome may be acquired at any time of life although it mainly affects women who are in their 40s and starting menopause. When I was 15, I was given hormones for some female problems and within a week was deathly ill with constant coughing, wheeze, whole body swelling and hives. As my lungs were always filled with liquid they called it 'wet asthma'. It took years to figure out what was wrong with me but when they did, they concluded that the hormones threw
me into this by changing my body chemistry.

'I found out that I was allergic to aspirin from an anaphylactic reaction when I was 16. I did not require hospitalization but I was very ill for over a week. My mouth, face and eyes and lips all swelled inside out and I had asthma and hives. For the next 3 years, it was a constant life and death situation, being transported to the hospital too many times to count, unconscious and in respiratory failure. No one, not even the doctors knew what causing the problems as the asthma was so very different from common asthma. During that time, I was put on prednisone on an every other day schedule and had to quit school as the illness was completely out of control.

'When I was 18, I went into anaphylactic shock when I was given the wrong pain medicine (Darvon - containing aspirin) by accident. I took one pill and within 15 minutes was unconscious. I was in intensive care for a week, then in the respiratory wing for another week. During that time, I was given a gingerale soda and went into another anaphylactic reaction. That is when they figured out I was sensitive to salicylates in foods and yellow #5 dye and was diagnosed with what they called Triad Asthma back then.

'Since that time I have tried just about every low salicylate diet that the doctors or I could find. I know now they were not complete nor correct. I was ingesting many foods like broccoli, cauliflower and onions on a daily basis, under the impression that they were safe. I had what they called mini-anaphylactic reactions nearly every day and was put on prednisone, asthma medication and an antihistamine on a daily schedule to control reactions. Salicylates kept building up in my system until the daily prednisone wasn't stopping the reactions and I would end up in the hospital again.

'Looking back to when I first was diagnosed with this and after the anaphylactic shock, I was eating a little rice, very few vegetables, no fruits and mostly meat and drinking only water. I was too scared to eat much. That was the first time I was able to come off prednisone for any length of time at all. Then the dietitian said I was anemic and wanted me to vary my diet. So I started eating more fruit and vegetables. It wasn't very long till I was back on all the medications. I didn't connect that the foods I had added back in were the problem because they were listed as low salicylate on the list that I was given.

'For the last 29 years, it has been up and down, just trying to figure it all out, taking medications and trying to stay alive. I would rack my brains trying to figure out where I was going wrong but couldn't get a handle on it. And was having to take more and more prednisone and antihistamines.

'When I found the Australian salicylate lists I was so excited. I could finally understand what was happening. I was inadvertently eating salicylates every day.' - from the USA