Ever have a stuffy nose you couldn't seem to shake? Now imagine that it lingers for 18 years, and you'll have a sense of Illinois resident Nadia Campbell's misery. "I used to wake up at night literally every hour to blow my nose because there was so much congestion and difficulty breathing," the 38-year-old tells Loyola Medicine. "I never got a restful night's sleep." She visited five specialists and had three surgeries over the years, all to no avail—until doctors at Loyola University's health system figured out the problem, reports ABC News. It was Samter’s triad, a rare condition recognized fairly recently that involves a combination of asthma, nasal polyps, and sensitivity to aspirin.
"My patients typically come in carrying a thick folder of medical records because they have tried for a long time to find a cure for their illness," says the doctor who successfully treated Campbell. "Most feel constant fatigue and facial pain and have had recurring bouts of sinusitis." Once the diagnosis was made, doctors surgically removed the polyps, opened up Campbell's nasal passages, desensitized her to aspirin, and weaned her off the steroid medications she'd been taking for years. Result? "I woke up and could smell breakfast and could taste coffee," says Campbell. "I didn't need to make sure I was carrying loads of tissues, because my nose was not running or irritated for the first time ever." (A paralyzed man's nose recently helped him walk again.)