Our Health Library information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist our patients to learn more about their health. Our providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.
Aspirin for Pain, Fever, and Inflammation
About This Medicine
Make sure you know about each of the medicines you take. This includes why you take it, how to take it, what you can expect while you're taking it, and any warnings about the medicine.
The information provided here is general. So be sure to read the information that came with your medicine. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
Why is aspirin used?
Aspirin (such as Bayer or Bufferin) relieves pain and reduces fever and inflammation. It also prevents blood clots from forming in the arteries. Doctors sometimes recommend daily aspirin for people at high risk of heart attack or stroke.
What about side effects?
The most common side effect of aspirin is stomach upset or discomfort. Taking it with food may help. Aspirin can also cause headaches. Sometimes it can make you bleed or bruise more easily. Stop taking it and call a doctor if side effects don't go away within 4 hours.
General information about side effects
All medicines can cause side effects. Many people don't have side effects. And minor side effects sometimes go away after a while.
But sometimes side effects can be a problem or can be serious.
If you're having problems with side effects, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to lower your dose or change to a different medicine.
Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you're taking. For a full list of side effects, check the information that came with the medicine you're using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
What are some cautions about aspirin?
Do not take aspirin if you are allergic to aspirin. Many over-the-counter medicines contain aspirin. Read labels carefully. And look for its generic name: acetylsalicylic acid, or ASA.
Talk to your doctor before you take aspirin if you:
- Are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
- Are breastfeeding.
- Have nasal polyps.
- Have a blood-clotting disorder or take blood thinners (anticoagulants).
- Have peptic ulcer disease.
- Have a history of gastrointestinal bleeding.
- Will be having surgery or a procedure.
Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
Stop taking aspirin immediately if your stools are black or tarry. This may be a sign of bleeding in your bowels.
General cautions for all medicines
- Allergic reactions.
- All medicines can cause a reaction. This can sometimes be an emergency. Before you take any new medicine, tell the doctor or pharmacist about any past allergic reactions you've had.
- Drug interactions.
- Sometimes one medicine may keep another medicine from working well. Or you may get a side effect you didn't expect. Medicines may also interact with certain foods or drinks, like grapefruit juice and alcohol. Some interactions can be dangerous.
- Harm during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
- If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, ask your doctor or pharmacist if all the medicines you take are safe.
- Other health problems.
- Before taking a medicine, be sure your doctor or pharmacist knows about all your health problems. The medicine for one health problem may affect another health problem.
Always tell your doctor or pharmacist about all the medicines you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. That information will help prevent serious problems.
Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you're taking. For a full list of warnings, check the information that came with the medicine you're using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
Current as of: June 25, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board: All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2023 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.