Is in a group of drugs called salicylates. It works by reducing substances in the body that cause pain, fever, and inflammation.

Aspirin is used to treat mild to moderate pain, and also to reduce fever or inflammation. It is sometimes used to treat or prevent heart attacks, strokes, and angina. Aspirin should be used for cardiovascular conditions only under the supervision of a doctor. Its should not be given to a child or teenager who has a fever, especially if the child also has flu symptoms or chicken pox. Aspirin can cause a serious and sometimes fatal condition called Reye’s syndrome in children.

Stop using this medication and call your doctor at once if you have any symptoms of bleeding in your stomach or intestines. Symptoms include black, bloody, or tarry stools, and coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds.

Avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking this medication. Alcohol may increase your risk of stomach bleeding.

Aspirin is sometimes used to treat or prevent heart attacks, strokes, and chest pain (angina). Aspirin should be used for cardiovascular conditions only under the supervision of a doctor.

Side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop using aspirin and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • black, bloody, or tarry stools;
  • coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;
  • severe nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain;
  • fever lasting longer than 3 days;
  • swelling, or pain lasting longer than 10 days; or
  • hearing problems, ringing in your ears.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • upset stomach, heartburn;
  • drowsiness; or
  • headache.

Aspirin and alcohol

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that people who regularly take aspirin shouldn’t drink alcohol. Patients who have heart disease should stop drinking alcohol and keep taking aspirin if their doctor prescribed aspirin as part of the treatment plan for their heart condition. Don’t stop taking aspirin without talking to your doctor first.

Should I take aspirin during a heart attack or stroke?

Taking aspirin isn’t advised during a stroke, because not all strokes are caused by blood clots. Most strokes are caused by clots, but some are caused by ruptured blood vessels. Taking aspirin could potentially make these bleeding strokes more severe.

Aspirin: Interactions

Aspirin may increase, decrease, or change the effects of many drugs. Aspirin can make drugs such as methotrexate (Rheumatrex) and valproic acid (Depakote, Depakene) more toxic. If taken with blood-thinning drugs, such as warfarin (Coumadin) and dicumarol, aspirin can increase the risk of excessive bleeding. Aspirin counteracts the effects of other drugs, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and beta blockers, which lower blood pressure, and medicines used to treat gout (probenecid and sulfinpyrazone). Blood pressure may drop unexpectedly and cause fainting or dizziness if aspirin is taken along with nitroglycerin tablets. Aspirin may also interact with diuretics, diabetes medicines. Anyone who is taking these drugs should ask his or her physician whethtier they can safely take aspirin.

Aspirin: Precautions

Aspirin-even children’s aspirin-should never be given to children or teenagers with flu-like symptoms or chickenpox. Aspirin can cause Reye┬┤s syndrome, a life-threatening condition that affects the nervous system and liver. As many as 30% of children and teenagers who develop Reye’s syndrome die. Those who survive may have permanent brain damage.

Check with a physician before giving aspirin to a child under 12 years for arthritis, rheumatism, or any condition that requires long-term use of the drug.

No one should take aspirin for more than 10 days in a row unless told to do so by a physician. Anyone with fever should not take aspirin for more than 3 days without a physician’s consent. Do not to take more than the recommended daily dosage.

People in the following categories should not use aspirin without first checking with their physician:

  • Pregnant women. Aspirin can cause bleeding problems in both the mother and the developing fetus. Aspirin can also cause the infant’s weight to be too low at birth.
  • Women who are breastfeeding. Aspirin can pass into breast milk and may affect the baby.
  • People with a history of bleeding problems.
  • People who are taking blood-thinning drugs, such as warfarin (Coumadin).
  • People with a history of ulcers.
  • People with a history of asthma, or both. These people are more likely to be allergic to aspirin.
  • People who are allergic to fenoprofen, ibuprofen, indomethacin, ketoprofen, meclofenamate sodium, naproxen, sulindac, tolmetin, or the orange food-coloring tartrazine. They may also be allergic to aspirin.
  • People with AIDS or AIDS-related complex who are taking AZT (zidovudine). Aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding in these patients.
  • People taking certain other drugs (discussed in Interactions).
  • People with liver damage or severe kidney failure.

Aspirin should not be taken before surgery, as it can increase the risk of excessive bleeding. Anyone who is scheduled for surgery should check with his or her surgeon to find out how long before surgery to avoid taking aspirin.

Aspirin can cause stomach irritation. To reduce the likelihood of that problem, take aspirin with food or milk or drink a full 8-oz glass of water with it. Taking coated or buffered aspirin can also help. Be aware that drinking alcohol can make the stomach irritation worse.

Sources: Drugs, Answers

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