safety medical

Side effects of Aspirin

Aspirin is a medication which is used to treat pain. It is a NSAID or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. In addition to being used for the treatment of pain Aspirin is also frequently used as a preventative medication for those at risk for heart attacks or strokes. Aspirin achieves the majority of its effects through its inhibition of prostaglandins and and thromboxane. Prostaglandins are responsible for transmitting feelings of pain to the brain. The reduction of prostaglandins by aspirin results in less pain being felt. Thromboxane on the other hand is a key agent in blood clotting. With the concentrations of thromboxane reduced in the blood by aspirin the blood becomes thinner and thereby less likely to form a clot. Though aspirin is helpful to a large number of people there are some side effects those who plan on taking aspirin should be aware of.

Reye's Syndrome

One of the most severe side effects of aspirin is known as Reyes syndrome. Reye's syndrome is a rare disease which only effects children and adolescents. There have been only a small percentage of documented cases of Reye's syndrome but it is still not advisable to give aspirin to children. Reyes syndrome cause brain damage and fatty liver. Often these effects are irreversible and will lead to death. There is no known cure and the best that doctors can do is try to treat the symptoms caused by Reyes syndrome. Reye's syndrome typically occurs when aspirin is given for the treatment of a fever. The FDA has recommended that aspirin should not be given to anyone under 12 years of age.

Gastrointestinal Discomfort

The most common side effect of aspirin is gastrointestinal discomfort. Taking aspirin can lead to an increase in the likelihood of ulcers and stomach bleeding. Taking other NSAID medications along with aspirin will also increase the chances of a gastrointestinal condition developing. Those with ulcers or other known stomach problems should avoid taking aspirin as it may aggravate those conditions. It is also recommended to take aspirin with a meal or a small snack to minimize the chances of gastrointestinal discomfort. Aspirin may cause diarrhea in some patients as well. If blood is found in the vomit or stools after taking aspirin treatment should be stopped immediately and professional medical attention should be sought. Some research has also concluded that taking aspirin with vitamin C reduces the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort developing.

Other Common Side Effects

A small number of the population may be allergic to aspirin. This is not technically an allergy but rather an inability of the body to metabolize aspirin resulting in an overdose. This results in the development of a rash as well as hives. Aspirin can also cause swelling of the skin. This is called angioedema. Typically, angioedema takes six hours to appear and only appears when aspirin is taken along side another NSAID medications. Aspirin can also cause complications if taken prior to an operation. This is due to its blood thinning properties. Because of this those about to undergo surgery should avoid aspirin and aspirin containing products.

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