AERD is a combination of 3 different medical problems. Chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps, Asthma and Aspirin allergy. It almost always starts in adulthood. In general, it does not run in families. Many patients are previously healthy, and then in their 20-30s start to have problems with their sinuses. They might start to get some problems with asthma. But the signature of this disease is the reaction to aspirin. Every patient with AERD has a reaction to aspirin (or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). If you don’t react to aspirin, then you don’t have AERD.
For most patients the nasal polyps are the worst part of the disease. Nasal polyps are slowly growing bumps of tissue that start in the sinus cavities and grow down into the nose. They almost always cause patients to lose their sense of smell. They cause blockage, discomfort, and recurrent infections. Medications can help slow the growth or temporarily lead to improvement in symptoms. But most patients at some point will need surgery to get the polyps out.
Unfortunately, the polyps almost always come back in AERD. And they grow faster than other conditions with nasal polyps. Both of these things mean that most patients with AERD actually have several sinus surgeries in their history. The need for these surgeries is one of the reasons that AERD is such a bad disease.
Dr. Andrew White has written a book for patients to learn more about AERD. This book can be downloaded for free here. It is also available on the iTunes bookstore for free