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Aspirin -- 10 amazing facts you should know

Are you one of the regular aspirin users? Here are some facts, benefits and side-effects of aspirin you should know.

Written by Shraddha Rupavate |Published : February 14, 2014 2:45 PM IST

AspirinFrom minor headache to heart diseases, aspirin has been like the staple drug used for treating common health problems in every home for generations together. Aspirin is not only popular among users but also among researchers all over the world. Scientists are so much in love with this miracle drug that on an average 3500 articles are published every year on aspirin. From this vast pool of information, here are top 10 filtered facts about aspirin that you should know.

1. It is the most widely used drug: Aspirin, chemically known as acetylsalicylic acid, is truly a boon to the medical world. This wonder drug was first brought to the pharmaceutical industry in the year 1899, when it was introduced for the treatment of rheumatic fever and gout. Since then it is the most extensively used therapeutic chemical and is still the first choice of treatment for minor pains and fever. You'll be surprised to know that worldwide about 20 to 50 million pounds are spent in consumption of this wonder drug. In the year 1950, aspirin was recognized as the highest selling drug by the Guinness Book World of Records.

2. Most people take the drug without even realising it: Most people don't realise that they are actually taking an aspirin because it is not only found as a single ingredient but is also present in combination with other prescribed and over-the-counter drugs. Most drugs containing aspirin have it labelled as ASA or spelled out as acetylsalicylic acid.

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3. It is used for relieving more than 50 symptoms: The role of aspirin in treatment of various conditions has been studied. Aspirin is most commonly used for symptoms like heartburn, fever, arthritis, stomach ache, sleep disorders, migraine headaches and symptoms of common cold.

4. Aspirin could benefit 11 different cancers: Aspirin has a significant ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. A new aspirin drug showed to curb the growth of cancer cells including that of colon, pancreatic, lung, prostate, breast and leukemia. A recent study by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), found that women who took aspirin daily may reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by 20 percent. Not just ovarian cancer, aspirin can be used for the treatment of other cancers like breast cancer and colon cancer. Here's additional information on the new designer drug thought to prevent multiple cancers.

5. Aspirin is good for your brain: Researchers noted that people who took aspirin regularly had a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, the main form of dementia. Aspirin is believed to be protective because of its anti blood clotting mechanism and its ability to influence blood flow to the brain. Read more about how aspirin could prevent dementia.

6. Aspirin may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke: Aspirin helps to thin blood and make it less likely to clot. According to a study, patients suffering from heart diseases who took aspirin had a reduced platelet activity which reduced their risk for heart attack and stroke. Read more about how aspirin in the night could keep heart attacks away!

7. You should never take aspirin without food: If you take aspirin on an empty stomach, you will most likely suffer from stomach irritation. It might affect the inner lining of your stomach and can cause gastric ulcers or bleeding. Depending on what you're suffering from, your dose of aspirin should be between 50 mg to 6000 mg daily. For example, if you have mild pain, then you can take a dose of 350 or 650 mg every 4 hours or you can take a 500 mg dose every 6 hours.

8. Children should not be given aspirin: Parents should note that if their children are suffering from chicken pox, flu-symptoms or other viral diseases, they should not give their children aspirin (in any form), as it may increase the chances of Reye's syndrome, a serious disease that affects all body parts including liver and the brain. Read more about why aspirin should not be given to patients with dengue fever.

Like all other drugs aspirin has its own set of side-effects, which are mostly dose dependent. Higher doses of aspirin are associated with:

  • Gastro-intestinal problems like ulcers, stomach burning, pain and cramps, nausea, gastritis, internal bleeding and liver toxicity.
  • Ringing in the ears, skin rashes, vertigo, dizziness
  • It can also cause kidney impairment
  • Worsening of asthma symptoms
  • It may also increase the effectiveness of certain medications. For instance, higher doses of aspirin in type 2 diabetic individuals may result in abnormally low blood sugars, if sugar is not monitored properly.
  • It also mildly interferes with blood clotting.

9. Overdose of aspirin can make you deaf: According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, individuals who take an aspirin two or more times a week may increase their risk of hearing impairment by one third.

10. About 472 drugs are known to interact with aspirin: With so many studies, aspirin has been found to interact with a lot of other drugs. Most probable drug interactions include with antidepressants, antacids, blood thinning agents like warfarin, medications for diabetes like insulin, other pain relievers like ibuprofen and corticosteroids. You should consult your doctor before taking an aspirin if you're already taking any of these medicines.

References:

  • Susan E. Feinman. Beneficial and Toxic Effects of Aspirin
  • Aspirin: The extraordinary story of the wonder drug
  • Aspirin (Suprinsingly versatile) https://www.aspirin.com/
  • Positive Med (http://positivemed.com/)

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