Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013


Aspirin is used for the relief of mild to moderate pain (like headache, migraine, sore throat, muscular pain and menstrual pain), to reduce fever, and to reduce inflammation.


Aspirin (also known as acetylsalicylic acid) is the active ingredient of Bayer Aspirin Cardio 100, Bayer Aspirin, Be-Tabs Aspirin, Disprin CV 100, Disprin, Ecotrin, Lo-Aspirin and Myoprin.

Aspirin is also one of multiple active ingredients found in Asasantin, Bayer Aspirin Plus C, Compral, Corenza C, Coryx, Disprin Plus, Doloxene Co-65, Dristan, Robaxisal and Tenston.

General information

Aspirin is used for the relief of mild to moderate pain (like headache, migraine, sore throat, muscular pain and menstrual pain), to reduce fever, and to reduce inflammation. It also has a thinning effect on blood and is used in low doses to prevent blood clots, thereby reducing the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

Aspirin may cause indigestion, irritation of the stomach lining, gastric ulcers or even bleeding. The dispersible or enteric coated forms of aspirin helps to reduce these adverse effects. It is advised that aspirin should be taken after a meal to reduce its irritant effect on the stomach. It should not be used in combination with alcohol as this may increase the occurrence of gastric side effects.

It should be avoided in asthmatics, as it may trigger an attack.

Aspirin should not be used by children under the age of 16 (with the exception of juvenile chronic arthritis - arthritis in children, that has been present for at least 3 months, and for which no other cause is obvious), because it may cause Rye's syndrome, a rare but potential fatal illness involving the brain and liver.

It should furthermore be avoided if you have gout, as aspirin increases uric acid - a metabolic waste product that may form crystal deposits in tissue, often in and around joints - and inhibits the metabolism thereof.

Aspirin should not be taken in doses larger than those recommended and should not be taken more often than every 4 hours.

How does aspirin work?

Aspirin blocks the production of chemicals responsible for pain, swelling and inflammation.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Schedule 2

Available as: Tablets, effervescent tablets

What does it do? Aspirin reduce pain, fever and inflammation

Overdose risk: High

Dependence risk: Low

Available as a generic? Yes

Available on prescription only? No

User information

Onset of effect: Within 60 minutes.

Duration of action: Up to 12 hours; blood thinning effect lasts for several days.

Dietary advice: Aspirin should always be taken with or immediately after food, even if you are taking an enteric coated tablet.

Stopping this medicine: If your doctor prescribed aspirin to thin your blood, you should consult your prescriber before discontinuing use. If used over-the-counter for pain, fever or inflammation, you can stop using it when it is no longer needed.

Prolonged use: Only low doses - primarily for the blood-thinning effect - should be used for prolonged periods. Larger doses should not be taken for longer than 2 days without consulting your doctor.

Special precautions

Alert your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have asthma,
  • you are younger than 16,
  • you have nasal polyps,
  • you have a history of allergic reaction to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,
  • you are taking warfarin or have a bleeding disorder,
  • you are dehydrated,
  • you have a stomach or duodenal ulcer,
  • you suffer from gout,
  • you are about to have surgery, or
  • you are taking any other medication.

Pregnancy: Avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: Avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: This medication is safe to use.

Infants and children: This medication is not intended for use in children.

Elderly: Caution is advised in the elderly as adverse effects are more likely.

Driving and hazardous work: No special precautions need be taken.

Alcohol: Avoid concomitant use of alcohol as alcohol may exacerbate gastrointestinal symptoms.

Possible side effects

Side effect


Consult your doctor



Only if severe

In all cases







Stomach pain






Skin rash/ itch






Wheezing/ tight chest






Dark tarry stools



Blood in vomit



Ringing in ears



Redness of face



Swelling of face, lips or eyelids




Drug interactions:

Antacids and urinary alkalisers

Reduced effect of aspirin


Potential gastrointestinal symptoms

Warfarin and other anticoagulants

Risk of bleeding

Drugs used in treating epilepsy, including phenytoin and valproic acid

Increased risk of toxicity with anti-epileptic. Bleeding may occur in some cases,


Potential gastrointestinal symptoms

Blood glucose lowering drugs

Enhanced blood sugar lowering effect

Diuretics including spirinolactone and furosemide

Decreased response to diuretic

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Potential gastrointestinal symptoms


Effect of probenecid lowered

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have asthma, are younger than 16, have nasal polyps, a bleeding disorder, a stomach or duodenal ulcer, gout or if you are scheduled to have surgery.

Overdose action

An overdose can be fatal. Seek immediate emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 300-900mg every 4-6 hours (up to 5.4g/day).

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.


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