Side effects of daily Aspirin – is it beneficial to take it every day?
“Is it beneficial to take Aspirin every day?” – that question is very familiar to all of us and you can often see it in the frequently asked question page on any medical site you visit (not only this one, I really saw it at least one more time ;)). We should be aware that taking drugs without a genuine reason can cause more harm than good to our body. Aspirin is not an exemption and it has its side effects as well. However, Aspirin has also some interesting properties, which can save our life at emergencies. Yes, it is a life saving drug if we use it in a wise way. This article highlights the history, drawbacks and the important applications of Aspirin.
History of Aspirin
In the history of medications, there are not many drugs like Aspirin, which started in the world as an analgesic (painkiller) and later became doctors’ favorite prescription for controlling cardiovascular diseases. Even before centuries, our ancestors used a basic form of this drug. They derived it from the bark of willow trees.
Hundred years ago, Dr.Felix Hoffman and his team succeeded in synthesizing this miracle drug from its basic form. They had carried out the research program under Bayer, a well-known pharmaceutical company.
Aspirin is the brand name of Bayer and its biologically active substance is acetylsalicylic acid. Aspirin became popular in the 20th century as an analgesic and antipyretic (fever reducer). After the invention of Paracetamol, which is comparatively safer than Aspirin, the popularity of Aspirin diminished as an analgesic and antipyretic drug. Clinical trials of Aspirin proved that it has a blood-thinning property. These studies gave Aspirin a rebirth in the form of anticoagulant (reduce clotting) which can do miracles in emergencies like stroke or heart attack. Aspirin gradually regained its popularity and topped in the table of emergency and life saving medicines.
Mechanism of action
Aspirin acts in different ways:
- It stops production of prostaglandin and thromboxane, which are the vital factors of inflammatory reactions. (Inflammatory reactions are the response of our body to external or internal harmful actions by pathogens, injuries or any other disorders. The inflammatory reactions include redness, pain, fever, mucous formation etc.)
- It reduces blood density
- It prevents blood clotting in the blood vessels and prevents existing blocks from further development
There is no drug that is free from disadvantages and Aspirin is not an exemption from that rule. Some of its drawbacks are:
- Aspirin may alter normal blood coagulation time and may cause severe bleeding. In case of any invasive procedures (surgery), it may cause harmful effects. If you are taking Aspirin, it is important to notify your doctor about this
- If you are taking Aspirin or Warfarin, then do not include garlic in your diet as it may prolong your bleeding time and may cause dangerous consequences
- Overdosage of Aspirin can cause ototoxicity (damage to the structures of ear)
- Aspirin is contraindicated (restricted) in case of eye injuries or contusion of eye ball
- Pruritus (itching) can be caused due to Aspirin
- Aspirin is considerd as one of the top allergic drugs
- Aspirin lowers immunity power by suppressing the synthesis of prostaglandins which have a great role in inflammatory reaction and stimulation of antibodies
- Regular use of Aspirin may cause kidney or bladder stones
- Aspirin alters the results of urine and blood tests (eg. Laboratory test for catecholamine levels, urine glucose levels, etc.)
- Aspirin is contraindicated for hyperthyroid patients
- Taking Aspirin with alcohol may result in severe gastrointestinal bleeding. Remember not to take Aspirin with tea, coffee or any carbonated beverages
- Aspirin can cause gastric irritation and ulcers
- Aspirin cause severe hepatic (liver) damage
- Aspirin is contraindicated for patients suffering from bleeding disorders (hemophilia)
Prolonged Aspirin usage increases bleeding time and may result in heavy bleeding from minor injuries leading to coma or death. The other side effects related to daily or frequent high doses of Aspirin usage can be:
- Tinnitus (abnormal sound in the ear)
- Blurring of vision
- Hyperpnoea (increased breath rate)
- Hyperpyrexia (increased body temperature)
- Epigastric pain
- Respiratory and metabolic acidosis
- Cardiovascular collapse
In most countries Aspirin is not prescribed as a drug to reduce pain or anti-inflammatory reactions.
Unlike Paracetamol, it is not safe to take Aspirin for minor pain or inflammation. Daily intake of Aspirin without doctor’s prescription can expose you to dangerous adverse effects. (Beware that frequent use of Paracetamol also has dangerous side effects.)
There are not many medicines which can act like Aspirin when we take it for a good reason. Though there are a number of its benefits, the main applications are as follows:
- Administering Aspirin can be life saving for a person who is undergoing a stroke or heart attack
- It prevents the re-occurrence of stroke and heart attack
- It prevents arterial scleroses (administered only to those who are under risk)
- It prevents the formation of blood clots
If you are considering taking Aspirin, consult it with your doctor and take it as per his order. Self-treatment can cause serious and undesirable reactions.