What Does Aspirin Do to Your Body?

Medically Reviewed on 2/8/2022
aspirin side effects
Aspirin works by lowering the symptoms of inflammation, such as pain or swelling, as well as it helps promote blood flow in the body.

Aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid is a type of medication that comes under the category of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and acts on the body by reducing the formation of certain substances called prostaglandins.

  • Prostaglandins are a type of fatty compound (lipids) having hormone-like action in the body.
  • They regulate various bodily functions, such as inflammation, blood clotting, and induction of labor.
  • There are various kinds of prostaglandins in the body.

Prostaglandins are formed by the action of enzymes called cyclooxygenases. Aspirin reduces the action of these enzymes, thereby lowering prostaglandin levels.

Aspirin reduces or inhibits the activities of those prostaglandins that promote pain, swelling, fever, and blood clotting. By blocking these effects of prostaglandins, aspirin helps lower the symptoms of inflammation.

Aspirin prevents platelet aggregation or the process in which platelets collect to form a clot. By lowering blood clotting, aspirin helps promote blood flow in the body. Due to its property of reducing blood clotting tendency, aspirin is also called a blood thinner.

7 side effects of aspirin

The seven common side effects of aspirin include:

  1. Heartburn or acid reflux
  2. Nausea
  3. Indigestion
  4. Drowsiness
  5. Mild headache
  6. Increased tendency to bruising
  7. Aspirin-induced asthma

Some people are allergic to aspirin and may develop side effects, such as hives, breathing difficulty, rash, and swelling over the face, lips, tongue, and neck. Immediate medical help must be sought if any of these symptoms appear.

Other signs for which urgent medical attention is needed include:

11 uses of aspirin

Aspirin is used for various conditions, such as:

  1. Arthritis
  2. Headache
  3. Common cold
  4. Toothaches
  5. Fever
  6. Rheumatic fever
  7. Muscle aches
  8. Unstable angina
  9. Heart attack
  10. Stroke
  11. Following certain cardiac surgeries, such as coronary artery bypass grafting, stenting, and carotid endarterectomy


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Who should not take aspirin?

Aspirin should only be taken when prescribed by a doctor. It should not be given to those younger than 16 years. Aspirin can cause a serious condition called Reye’s syndrome. It is a severe form of inflammation of the liver and brain.

Aspirin must be used with caution in people with asthma, kidney diseases, liver diseases, uncontrolled high blood pressure, dehydration, and certain bowel conditions (such as chronic diarrhea and bowel obstruction).

A person must consult the doctor if they are pregnant or taking any medications, such as antidepressants, blood pressure medications including diuretics (water pills), or other blood thinners (such as warfarin), before taking aspirin. Pregnant women and those planning to get pregnant must ask their doctor before taking aspirin.

If a person is planning to undergo surgery or any dental procedure while on aspirin, they must discuss it with their doctor first because it can increase the risk of bleeding.

Aspirin must not be used by those who are allergic to it.

Other conditions in which aspirin must be avoided include:

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Medically Reviewed on 2/8/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

RxList. Aspirin. https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_aspirin/drugs-condition.htm

US Food and Drug Administration. Aspirin for Reducing Your Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke: Know the Facts. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/safe-daily-use-aspirin/aspirin-reducing-your-risk-heart-attack-and-stroke-know-facts