Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), is a medication used to reduce pain, fever, or inflammation. Specific inflammatory conditions which aspirin is used to treat include Kawasaki disease, pericarditis, and rheumatic fever. Aspirin, derivative of salicylic acid that is a mild nonnarcotic analgesic (pain reliever) useful in the relief of headache and muscle and joint aches.
Aspirin given shortly after a heart attack decreases the risk of death. Aspirin is also used long-term to help prevent further heart attacks, ischaemic strokes, and blood clots in people at high risk.
Aspirin is effective in reducing fever, inflammation, and swelling and thus has been used for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever, and mild infection. In these instances, aspirin generally acts on the symptoms of disease and does not modify or shorten the duration of a disease. However, because of its ability to inhibit the production of blood platelet aggregates (which may cut off the blood supply to regions of the heart or brain), aspirin has also been used as an anticoagulant in the treatment of conditions such as unstable angina or following a minor stroke or heart attack.
Pain : Aspirin is an effective analgesic for acute pain, although it is generally considered inferior to ibuprofen because aspirin is more likely to cause gastrointestinal bleeding. Aspirin is generally ineffective for those pains caused by muscle cramps, bloating, gastric distension, or acute skin irritation. As with other NSAIDs, combinations of aspirin and caffeine provide slightly greater pain relief than aspirin alone.Effervescent formulations of aspirin relieve pain faster than aspirin in tablets, which makes them useful for the treatment of migraines.
Fever : Like its ability to control pain, aspirin’s ability to control fever is due to its action on the prostaglandin system through its irreversible inhibition of COX. Although aspirin’s use as an antipyretic in adults is well established, many medical societies and regulatory agencies, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Food and Drug Administration, strongly advise against using aspirin for treatment of fever in children because of the risk of Reye’s syndrome, a rare but often fatal illness associated with the use of aspirin or other salicylates in children during episodes of viral or bacterial infection.
Inflammation :Aspirin is used as an anti-inflammatory agent for both acute and long-term inflammation, as well as for treatment of inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Heart attacks and strokes : Aspirin is an important part of the treatment of those who have had a heart attack. It is generally not recommended for routine use by people with no other health problems, including those over the age of 70.
Cancer prevention : Aspirin is thought to reduce the overall risk of both getting cancer and dying from cancer. This effect is particularly beneficial for colorectal cancer (CRC) but must be taken for at least 10–20 years to see this benefit. It may also slightly reduce the risk of endometrial cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.
Aspirin is a first-line treatment for the fever and joint-pain symptoms of acute rheumatic fever. The therapy often lasts for one to two weeks, and is rarely indicated for longer periods. After fever and pain have subsided, the aspirin is no longer necessary, since it does not decrease the incidence of heart complications and residual rheumatic heart disease. Naproxen has been shown to be as effective as aspirin and less toxic, but due to the limited clinical experience, naproxen is recommended only as a second-line treatment.
Along with rheumatic fever, Kawasaki disease remains one of the few indications for aspirin use in children in spite of a lack of high quality evidence for its effectiveness.
Low-dose aspirin supplementation has moderate benefits when used for prevention of pre-eclampsia. This benefit is greater when started in early pregnancy. There is no evidence that aspirin prevents dementia.
Aspirin side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to aspirin: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Stop using this medicine and call your doctor at once if you have:
- ringing in your ears, confusion, hallucinations, rapid breathing, seizure (convulsions);
- severe nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain;
- bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;
- fever lasting longer than 3 days; or
- swelling, or pain lasting longer than 10 days.
Common aspirin side effects may include:
- upset stomach, heartburn;
- drowsiness; or
- mild headache.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur.