Aspirin as a Form of Medicine: What You Need to Know About Side Effects and Dosages

First Posted: Mar 08, 2014 01:50 PM EST

Both prescription and non-prescription aspirin can be used for a variety of reasons, for both significant needs as well as everyday use. Here's what you need to know if you're a regular user of aspirin.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides a comprehensive breakdown for the uses and side effects of aspirin. The drug is recommended for both men and women to treat mini-strokes as well as heart attacks and other coronary conditions. Its more basic use is for rheumatologic diseases such as arthritic conditions along with basic pain relief and headaches.

Aspirin is a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug and works by stopping the production of natural substances in the body that cause pain, swelling, fever, or blood clots. Its non-prescription use typically includes treating headaches, toothaches, muscle aches, and colds. Non-prescription aspirin is also used to treat people with angina to prevent heart attacks. It can be taken every four to six hours and should be consumed with a full glass of water.

Sounds convenient and helpful, right? There are side effects that the National Institutes of Health note on their website and they suggest consulting your physician if they continually occur as you take your dosages.

The basic side effects are nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and heartburn, which are different for all people. However, the more serious side effects should be tended to immediately, whether it takes a simple calling of your doctor or an emergency room visit. These include hives, rashes, swelling of eyes, face, lips, tongue, or throat, difficulty breaking, fast heartbeat, cold and clammy skin, ringing in the ears, bloody vomit, or discolored stools (black or red).

If these problems persist, baby aspirin or low-dose aspirin can be recommended to avoid the side effects. But there are still limitations for those who can take aspirin; children, teens and pregnant women should consult a doctor before taking it, and it should never be taken while consuming alcohol.

This Live Science article provides a good summary about aspirin as well as the dos and don'ts for the widely used pain reducer.

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