Aspirin Patient Education – Overview
Aspirin also called the “wonder drug”, is an extremely popular and widely used medication around the world.
According to reports, every year over 80 million aspirin tablets are sold in the United States alone. This medication falls into the NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) category.
Usually, aspirin helps to lower fever and alleviates minor aches and pains. This medication even helps to prevent strokes and heart attacks.
Why is Aspirin Prescribed?
Aspirin is prescribed to relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and several other similar conditions.
Aspirin works to fight minor malfunctions in the immune system where it tends to attack a healthy part of the body.
Non-prescription aspirin reduces fever and alleviates mild pain, such as from menstrual periods, headaches, toothaches, arthritis and muscle aches.
This medication is also helpful in reducing the risk of a heart attack in people who have already experienced cardiac arrest. This medication has also been found effective in preventing ischemic strokes, mini-strokes, etc.
Aspirin is also prescribed along with certain medications, such as pain relievers, antacids, and cold cough medicines.
How Should Aspirin be used?
Aspirin is a long-acting medicine. Non-prescription aspirin is sold as a regular tablet, a chewable tablet, a delayed-release tablet, powder or as a gum for oral consumption.
This medicine is usually advised to be taken twice or thrice a day. This medication, when taken one tablet a day, helps to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
It is also often taken every 4 or 6 hours to treat pain or fever.
It is highly advised to follow the instructions printed on the packet and read the prescription label carefully.
You should also consult with your pharmacist or doctor to explain anything you do not understand in the instructions.
Always take aspirin as directed by the doctor, pharmacist or prescription label. Do not take more, or less, than the prescribed dosage of aspirin else it may lead to severe complications.
Here’s how you should take each type of aspirin:
Extended-release aspirin – Swallow these tablets with a full glass of water. Do not crush, break or chew this type of aspirin.
Delayed-release aspiring – Swallow these aspirin tablets with a full glass of water, as directed by the doctor or prescription label.
Chewable aspirin – This type of aspirin tablet can be swallowed whole, or chewed and crush. Drink an entire glass of water immediately after taking chewable aspirin tablets.
Does Aspirin Cause Side Effects?
Yes, consuming aspirin may cause certain side effects, including:
- Stomach ache
Apart from these, there are other more severe side effects often seen with the consumption of aspirin, these include:
- Breathing difficulty (wheezing breaths)
- Swelling in throat, tongue, face, lips or eyes
- Fast heartbeat (palpitation)
- Cold, clammy skin
- Fast breathing
- Loss of hearing
- Ringing in ears
- Bloody vomit
- Dark brown, sluggish vomit
- Red, or black-tarry stools
In case you notice any signs of the above-mentioned side effects, it is strongly advised to contact your doctor immediately.
How to store and dispose of Aspirin?
It is strongly recommended to keep aspirin in a secure container, out of reach of children. You can store this medication safely at room temperature.
Still, you need to keep the pill container away from direct heat or moisture. Hence, you should avoid keeping aspirin in your bathroom.
In case you detect a strong vinegar-like smell from the tablet, you should dispose of them immediately as this often signals that the pills have expired.
Make sure to keep all appointments with your doctor. If you are taking aspirin on prescription, do not let anyone else handle your medication.
Ask your pharmacist any questions or doubt you may have before getting your prescription refilled. Make sure to create a list of other medications, drugs, vitamins, dietary supplements, etc. which you may be consuming regularly.
Bring this list of medications and supplements to your doctor’s visit. This way, the doctor will be able to decide if aspirin is the best-suited medication for your condition.
In case of any risk, the doctor may recommend another pain reliever or antacid.