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Lung Disorders

From the Current Issue

New Research:
Aspirin-Induced Asthma More Common Than Thought

New evidence suggests that one in five adults with asthma may be allergic to aspirin and similar painkillers—a problem that puts them at risk for potentially severe asthmatic reactions.

A review of 21 studies conducted since the 1970s found that 21% of asthmatic adults may be sensitive to aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Nearly all of the patients with so-called aspirin-induced asthma were also sensitive to the NSAIDs naproxen (Naprosyn), ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin), and diclofenac (Voltaren).

On the other hand, researchers found, few adults with aspirin-induced asthma were sensitive to acetaminophen (Tylenol)—a finding they say reinforces the current recommendation that this drug be the painkiller of choice for asthmatics.

The incidence of aspirin-induced asthma in this study was twice as high as that found in other recent research reviews. This difference, the researchers note, may arise from the fact that many people with asthma are unaware that they’re sensitive to aspirin; studies that rely on patient reports rather than objective testing yield lower rates of aspirin-induced asthma.

Since people typically take over-the-counter painkillers of their own accord, the researchers stress, doctors should be sure to alert asthmatic patients to the potential for NSAID-induced attacks.

Volume 328, page 434
February 21, 2004


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Lung Disorders

The Lung Disorders White Paper from the Johns Hopkins White Papers series is an annual, in-depth report written by Johns Hopkins physicians.



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