- A Visual Guide to Migraine Headaches Slideshow
- Headache and Migraine Triggers Slideshow
- Take the Migraines Quiz
- What is acetylsalicylic acid, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for acetylsalicylic acid?
- Is acetylsalicylic acid available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for acetylsalicylic acid?
- What are the side effects of acetylsalicylic acid?
- What is the dosage for acetylsalicylic acid?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with acetylsalicylic acid?
- Is acetylsalicylic acid safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about acetylsalicylic acid?
What is acetylsalicylic acid, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Aspirin is a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug (NSAID) effective in treating fever, pain, and inflammation in the body. It also prevents blood clots (i.e., is antithrombotic). As a group, NSAIDs are non-narcotic relievers of mild to moderate pain of many causes, including
Other members of this class include ibuprofen (Motrin), indomethacin (Indocin), nabumetone (Relafen) and several others. They all work by reducing the levels of prostaglandins, chemicals that are released when there is inflammation and that cause pain and fever. NSAIDs block the enzyme that makes prostaglandins (cyclooxygenase), resulting in lower concentrations of prostaglandins. As a consequence, inflammation, pain, and fever are reduced. Inhibition of prostaglandins also reduces the function of platelets and the ability of blood to clot. Aspirin, inhibits the function of platelets in a manner that is different from other NSAIDs, and its antithrombotic effects last longer than other NSAIDs. This is why aspirin is used for preventing heart attacks and strokes. The FDA approved Bayer aspirin in June 1965.
What brand names are available for acetylsalicylic acid?
Aspirin, Arthritis Foundation Safety Coated Aspirin, Bayer Aspirin, Bayer Children's Aspirin, Ecotrin, and many others
Is acetylsalicylic acid available as a generic drug?
GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes
Do I need a prescription for acetylsalicylic acid?
What are the side effects of acetylsalicylic acid?
Most patients benefit from aspirin and other NSAIDs with few side effects. However, serious side effects can occur and generally tend to be dose-related. Therefore, it is advisable to use the lowest effective dose to minimize side effects.
Gastrointestinal side effects are
- abdominal burning,
- gastritis, and
- even serious gastrointestinal bleeding and
- liver toxicity.
Ringing in the ears
- Should ringing in the ears occur, the daily dose should be reduced.
Other side effects include:
Other side effects and adverse reactions
- Aspirin should be avoided by patients with peptic ulcer disease or poor kidney function, since this medication can aggravate both conditions.
- Aspirin may exacerbate asthma.
- Aspirin can raise the blood uric acid level and is avoided in patients with hyperuricemia and gout.
- Children and teenagers should avoid aspirin for symptoms of the flu or chickenpox because of the associated risk of Reye's Syndrome, a serious disease of the liver and nervous system that can lead to coma and death.
- Aspirin can increase the effect of medicines used to treat diabetes mellitus, resulting in abnormally low blood sugars if blood sugar levels are not monitored.
- NSAIDs should be discontinued prior to elective surgery because of a mild tendency to interfere with blood clotting. Aspirin, because of its prolonged effect on platelets, is best discontinued at least ten to fourteen days in advance of the procedure.
Quick GuideMigraine or Headache? Migraine Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.