Aspirin is a drug that reduces pain, fever, swelling and inflammation. It is a form of salicylate that has been used in various forms since ancient times for relief of pain or fever. Aspirin is also a "hidden ingredient" found in many non-prescription medicines.
Commonly used, aspirin is available without a prescription; yet it can be dangerous when taken in large amounts all at once, or in smaller amounts over several days.
Aspirin is not recommended for children under 12 because use in children with viral illnesses has been linked to Reye's Syndrome.
Excessive use of aspirin can cause an upset stomach, easy bruising, and prolonged bleeding. Aspirin overdose, whether intentional or accidental, can cause rapid breathing, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, sweating, confusion, seizures, coma, and even death.
Aspirin Safety Tips:
- Follow package directions carefully to determine how much and how often to take medications containing salicylates. If symptoms are not better after following these directions, see a doctor. Do not take more aspirin.
- If someone has taken too much aspirin, do not attempt treatment at home. Stop all aspirin use immediately and contact NC Poison Control. Immediate referral to a hospital may be necessary. Undetected and/or untreated aspirin toxicity can be life-threatening.
- Never use aspirin or salicylate-containing products to treat children under 12 years old unless told to do so by the child’s doctor.
- Read all active ingredients in products to determine if salicylates (aspirin) are listed. Salicylates and salicylic acid are "hidden ingredients" in many products like Pepto-Bismol® as well as Flexall®, Heet®, Ben-Gay®, Icy Hot®, Panalgesic®, and Oil of Wintergreen liniments, acne products and ointments. Look for any ingredients containing the words aspirin, salicylate, salicylic, salsalate, or homosalate.
- If you have a product containing ingredients that are questionable, unfamiliar, or unknown to you, do not use the product until you discuss the ingredients with a specialist at NC Poison Control.
Call NC Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or chat from this site for questions about an exposure to aspirin or for more information.