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Aspirin - Acetylsalicylic Acid

Developed by German chemist Felix Hoffmann in 1897, acetylsalicylic acid or Aspirin as it is popularly known is a safe and effective treatment for many an ailment ranging from moderate fever to swelling or even blood clotting. This over-the-counter medication is probably one of the widest selling drugs.

Aspirin: Interestingly, Aspirin is a medicine that has found its way into the Guiness Book of Records. In the year 1950, aspirin recorded entry into the Guinness Book of Records as the highest selling drug product. People are familiar with a common adage which says 'take aspirin at bed time to cut heart attack risk in the morning'. This is a finding of a research that is popular amongst people but has not been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

World over, millions of people are familiar with Aspirin as a medicine to relieve pain, aches, fever and inflammation. In such instances, Aspirin is an anti-prostaglandin. Aspirin is also antiplatelet blood thinner medicine. It restricts the ability of the platelets to stick together which in turn reduces the risk of formation of blood clots.

Aspirin is used to treat headache, migraine, muscular pain, neuralgia and sore throat. Aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid has anti-coagulant properties as well as analgesic and antipyretic properties. This drug is a NSAID - non steroidal anti inflammatory drug. Prostaglandins - a family of chemicals are produced within the body's cells by the enzyme cyclo oxygenase (COX).

Further there are 2 kinds of COX enzymes - COX 1 and COX 2 which produce prostaglandins which in turn promote pain, inflammation and fever. Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs - NSAIDS act by blocking the COX enzymes and reduce prostaglandins thereby reducing the pain, fever and inflammation. In this process of reducing the prostaglandins, NSAID promotes bleeding and may contribute to stomach ulcers. Aspirin is an unique NSAID in the sense that it inhibits clotting of blood for prolonged period - up to 4 to 7 days. It is used to reduce temperature and is commonly recommended for pain relief as in the case of dental pain. Aspirin works as a pain killer by working on the sensitivity of the nerves both at the site of the pain as well as the central nervous system. FDA has approved the use of aspirin in the following conditions:

Heart conditions : The FDA has approved the use of aspirin to reduce the risk of fatality in the event of a heart attack. Aspirin taken during a suspected heart attack can also lessen the damaging effects of the heart attack. Persons who have already suffered a heart attack or unstable angina are put on a course of aspirin to reduce the risk of another heart attack. Aspirin is also recommended for use in people who have suffered transient ischemic attack (TIA or mini-stroke). FDA has endorsed the use of low dose aspirin (75 and 325 mg) for lowering the risk of heart attack and strokes. Aspirin helps in improving blood flow through narrowed blood vessels.

Side Effects of Aspirin: Side effects from aspirin are relatively rare. If you are prone to heartburn or indigestion, ensure that you take aspirin after food. Some people experience rashes or vomiting or stomach pain after taking aspirin. Rarely are side effects such as ringing in the ears, dizziness or mental confusion noticed. In such a case, consult a doctor immediately. Recent research indicates that regular intake of Aspirin on a daily basis can increase the risk of age related Macular Degeneration. Rarely some men have reported blood in the semen - a condition called as Haematospermia.

Contraindications: Aspirin must not be taken on an empty stomach. Persons suffering from peptic ulcer must consult the doctor for the recommended dosage. Aspirin must not be taken along with alcohol. Aspirin and other salicylates should not be taken during the last 3 months of pregnancy or while breast-feeding. It is essential to keep the doctor informed if you are allergic to aspirin If you are taking medications for high blood pressure, diabetes or any anticoagulants, you must inform your physician before he prescribes aspirin.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: April 17, 2024