Aspirin is a widely used drug that has a variety of uses from reducing pain to lowering the risk for serious issues such as stroke and heart attack.
It is available in various forms including tablets, oral gels, tablets dissolved in water and powder. Some are available over-the-counter while others require a prescription.
What is aspirin used for?
If given at high doses, aspirin can reduce pain, lower fever and lessen swelling.
Aspirin is used for brief relief from:
- Headache and migraine
- Period pains
- Generalized pain
- Common cold and flu
Long-standing management with low dose aspirin has an antiplatelet purpose which makes the blood less adhesive and can prevent the formation of blood clots.
The doctor might suggest this for the following:
- Angina or heart attack
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Coronary artery bypass surgery or other procedures on the blood vessels or the heart
How to use aspirin
The doctor will provide instructions on how often to use the drug and the dosage.
- High-dose – for pain relief can be used 3-4 times in a day with at least 4 hours in between every dose until the symptoms settle
- Low-dose – for prevention of blood clots is used once a day, usually for a lifetime.
What are the potential side effects?
Similar with all medications, aspirin has its share of side effects. The common side effects include:
- Stomach pain and indigestion – this is lowered by taking the drug with food
- Bruising or bleeding easily than normal
The uncommon and rare effects include:
- Difficulty breathing or asthma attack
- Bleeding in the stomach which causes dark, tar-colored stools or blood-streaked vomiting
- Allergic reaction
- Bleeding in the brain which can cause an abrupt, intense headache along with visual issues and stroke symptoms such as weakness in one side of the body and slurred speech