Diet & Lifestyle
Diet and AERD (Samter's Triad)
Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
Every Aspirin Exacerbated Respiratory Disease patient dreams of finding a natural treatment. Many of us were perfectly healthy until we suddenly developed AERD (Samter's Triad) in mid-adulthood. No one likes being dependent on medications to feel well. While there is unfortunately no natural cure for this disease, but some patients do report benefits from making some changes. Eating a nutritious diet, getting plenty of exercise, and maintaining a healthy body weight is great advice for anyone suffering from chronic illness, but there are some specific things that may be beneficial for AERD patients.
AERD & Alcohol
Limiting or avoiding alcohol is likely to help symptoms for most patients. Research has found that 83% of AERD (Samter's Triad) patients have sinus or asthma reactions to alcohol. Some patients report a worse reaction to wine or beer than a clear liquor, like vodka, but any alcohol can cause a reaction. Read more about alcohol and AERD.
Vitamin D is not a treatment for AERD, but there is evidence that it plays an important role in respiratory health. Research has found that many patients with asthma and nasal polyps have low levels of vitamin D. In addition to this, most AERD patients take corticosteroid medications long term, which puts us at risk for developing bone loss. Maintaining healthy vitamin D levels may help prevent this. Always discuss what supplements you take with your doctors. If you take vitamin D supplements, you should have your vitamin D levels checked regularly.
Food Additives - Not Related to AERD
Professor Samter originally believed that tartrazine (also known as Yellow Dye #5) contributed to ongoing inflammation in patients. His theory was proven to be incorrect. Rigorous challenges involving hundreds of AERD patients were negative for tartrazine sensitivity. Sulfites, MSG, and other food dyes were also implicated by older research, but none of these substances have been found to cross-react with aspirin in AERD patients. Scripps conducted MSG challenges on patients and found that it did not cause reactions for any patient, even though many patients had reported a history of reactions to MSG. AERD patients have reactive airways in general. Asthma symptoms caused by other factors may be falsely attributed to preservatives. A minority of people with asthma do have sensitivity to sulfites, but this is not specifically related to AERD.
Other Diet & Lifestyle Factors
The Scripps AERD Patient Survey also found that 27% of AERD patients reported respiratory reactions to mint flavorings in toothpaste and chewing gum. There has not been any formal study done on the cause of these reactions, or how common they may be among AERD patients. However, there have been case studies that indicate that mint reactions do exist in some patients. Dr. White of Scipps Clinic has theorized that the physical stimuli caused by mint and spice may activate mast cells in some patients. If you think that your toothpaste may be causing a reaction, there are alternatives that do not contain mint flavorings. You can purchase children's toothpastes, which come in fruit flavors. There are also toothpastes available with no flavoring whatsoever.
It is important to note that not all AERD patients report having dietary reactions, although the majority of us do react to alcohol. The Scripps Patient Survey also found that about a third of patients felt that dairy products contributed to their symptoms. Some of these reports may be explained by the aggressive inflammatory nature of the disease. Symptoms come and go on a daily basis. They may be worsened by viral illness, stress, hormone fluctuations, and other environmental factors and may be falsely attributed to specific foods in the diet. If your diet doesn't appear to be bothering you, there's no reason to eliminate any specific foods.
Special Diets for AERD
Diet modification is not a cure for AERD, but some patients find that making some changes helps their symptoms.
Browsing the internet, you are likely to find a multitude of diets being recommended for those suffering from chronic illness. It can be a frustrating process to try to determine what may actually be likely to help. On this website, we review the low omega 6 diet and the low salicylate diet, which are the only two diets that have been studied in AERD patients. Specific food allergies and intolerances are not related to AERD, though they do occur in some patients.
Diet and lifestyle changes may be most helpful once symptoms are already somewhat under control. If your nose is completely blocked, you are probably not going to get the relief you need by changing your diet. Always discuss diet changes with your doctors.
Learn more about how diet is related to AERD by exploring the pages below!
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