What is Aspirin?
Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is classified as an NSAID—or Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drug. These medicines are often used to relieve pain, reduce swelling and bring down fevers. Aspirin works by blocking the synthesis of certain substances in the affected organs that cause pain, fever and inflammation.
Aspirin is available in powdered and tablet form in most stores around the country, and dosages range based upon its intended use. Asprin is a generic name, but it also the most common brand name for the drug. It is also available as many brands such as Arthritis Pain, Aspir-Low, Bayer Asprin, Bufferin, Ecotrin, Halfprin, Tri-Buffered Asprin, Zorprin and several others.
The standard dosage for Aspirin as a pain reliever is between 325mg and 650mg for adults and 10mg to 15mg for children. Neither adults nor children should exceed dosages in excess of 4g per day, however. Many adults take Aspirin for its blood thinning properties to prevent heart attack and stroke; this dosage is often a single 81mg Aspirin tablet per day for such maintenance.
Aspirin has four main medical uses: relieving pain, reducing swelling, bringing down fevers and preventing heart attack and stroke. The scientific name for Aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid, and it has been used to treat pain and swelling since the mid-1800s.
Aspirin works to counteract pain and swelling by inhibiting the release of certain chemicals in the body—called prostaglandins—that send pain signals to the brain and swelling signals to injured areas of the body. These prostaglandins are also created in the brain as a result of a bacterial or viral infection, resulting in a rise in temperature. Aspirin reduces the amount of prostaglandins present, resulting in a drop in core body temperature.
Low dosages of aspirin (75-100 mg) prevent the aggregation of platelets which makes aspirin very useful for the prophylaxis of different kinds of thrombosis, angina pectoris, heart attacks and strokes.
Precautions when taking aspirin
- Aspirin should be avoided by people with a history of gastritis, ulcers or any gastrointestinal bleeding. Aspirin has the potential for worsening these conditions and causing bleeding. In case you notice any signs of internal bleeding, such as darkening of the excrements or vomiting blood, call your doctor immediately. However, such complications are rare among patients that do not suffer from any of the mentioned conditions and aspirin is considered safe for them.
- Do not take aspirin if you are allergic to salicylates or any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In case of breathing difficulties, swelling of the face or skin reactions after taking aspirin, call a doctor immediately.
- Aspirin can cause a condition known as ‘’aspirin asthma” so that it should be avoided by people suffering from asthma, hay fever, nasal polyps or chronic respiratory distress.
- It is very important to know that aspirin should not be administered to children and teenagers under the age of 15, especially if they have symptoms of fever or chickenpox as it can cause a potentially life-threatening condition, known as Reye’s syndrome. It is manifested in continuous vomiting, encephalopathy and degenerative changes in the internal organs.
- In babies aspirin can cause high levels of a substance called bilirubin which causes yellowing of the skin and is toxic for the brain.
- People prone to bleeding due to any blood disorders, such as haemophilia should not take aspirin without a consultation with a physician. Inform your doctor if you are going to have surgery because aspirin can lead to stronger bleeding.
- The usage of aspirin by people suffering from glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (a genetic metabolic disorder) is not recommended as it can cause hemolytic anemia.
- Aspirin can worsen the course of gout as it decreases the excretion of uric acid with the urine.
- Other adverse reactions that can be observed during the treatment with aspirin are nausea, vomiting and tinnitus (a ringing sensation in the ears).