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What is aspirin?Aspirin belongs to a group of pain killers called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's). Aspirin is an analgesic (pain killer), a antipyretic (temperature reducer), an anti-inflammatory and an anti-platelet. It can be used for the relief of mild to moderate pain such as toothaches, migraines, period pains and to relieve the symptoms of cold and flu such as fever.
How does aspirin work?When the body becomes ill or injured, chemicals called prostagaldins are released into the body. Aspirin works by blocking the production of prostagladins, resulting in the body being less aware of pain/injury.
Aspirin reduces a fever by targeting the part of the brain which deals with temperature control.
The pain killing effects of aspirin occur soon after a dose however the anti-inflammatory effects may take longer to take effect. You may need up to three weeks worth of treatment to get the best results.
Aspirin can be taken by people who have had or are at risk of coronary heart disease.
Who can take aspirin long term?People who have (or have had) cardiovascular diseases (diseases of the heart and blood vessels) such as: heart attack, angina, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. A low dose of aspirin will usually be prescribed as it prevents blood clotting by thinning the blood, to help to prevent further problems.
Similarly, if you are at high risk of developing a cardiovascular disease, your doctor may prescribe you with aspirin to lessen the likelihood. (High risk factors of cardiovascular disease include: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking, high alcohol consumption and little or no exercise).
If you are healthy, with a low risk of developing cardiovascular disease then there is no need to take a course of aspirin just for the sake of preventing a blood clot. Taking aspirin long-term may cause serious side effects to develop. If you are healthy and fit, stick to taking aspirin only for short term pain relief.
Can children take aspirin?Aspirin is suitable for those of 16 years old and above. Children under 16 shouldn't take aspirin unless advised by a doctor. The use of asprin in young children has been linked with Reye's syndrome, a rare but sometimes fatal disease which affects the brain and liver.
Can I take Aspirin if I am pregnant or breast feeding?Aspirin should not be taken in the latter stages of pregnancy. As with all medicines during pregnancy, advice should be sought from a doctor before use.
A considerable amount of aspirin could pass into the milk and for that reason it is advised that aspirin is not taken whilst breast feeding. A safer alternative that can be sued during pregnancy or breast feeding is Paracetamol.
Should I be cautious when taking Aspirin?Aspirin should be avoided if:
You should never exceed the stated dose on the packaging and aspirin shouldn't be taken with any other medicines that contain NSAID's.
- You have a hypersensitivity to ibuprofen or other NSAID's.
- You have or have had a peptic ulcer.
- You have suffered severe heart failure.
- You are over 65 years of age.
Does aspirin have any side effects?Known side effects of aspirin include:
Less common side effects of ibuprofen include:
- Abdominal pain.
Aspirin taken at the recommended dose does not effect your ability to drive or operate heavy machinery. However occasionally patients find that they felt dizzy after taking aspirin, if this occurs driving is not recommended. Alcohol doesn't interfere with how aspirin works, however the mixing the two should be avoided. Aspirin should be taken with or after food to reduce irritation to the stomach.
- Fluid retention.
- Ankle swelling.
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
- Unusual bruising.
- Allergic reactions e.g. Rash.
- Worsening of asthma.
Will taking Aspirin interfere with my other medication?Aspirin can effect some medicines, for example, aspirin is know to interact with Warfarin due to it's anticoagulant effects. If you are already taking medication prior to taking aspirin, consult a pharmacist of your doctor first.
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