How Does Aspirin Work and How to Take It? 

Aspirin is a type of drug known as a salicylate. These types of drugs are used to help reduce substances in the body that will cause inflammation, pain and fever. In general, aspirin is prescribed for moderate pain, but it can also be used to take down inflammation or reduce fevers. On occasion, patients will be placed on an aspirin regimen to help prevent angina, heart attacks or stroke. You should only use aspirin to treat a cardiovascular condition when being supervised by a doctor.

How Does Aspirin Work?

Aspirin is known as acetylsalicylic acid, which is administered as an anti-inflammatory, fever reducer, pain reliever and anticlotting agent.

How It Works:

  • When you experience traumatic blow or excessive stress, etc. It triggers a reaction in your body on the cellular level.
  • This reaction often ends with the generation of prostaglandins, substances that increase pain and cause fever.
  • Aspirin prevents the generation of prostaglandins by inhibiting the enzyme which produces them (cyclooxygenase), thus relieving pain, fever and inflammation.

What Conditions Does Aspirin Treat?

It is commonly prescribed to treat symptoms associated with headaches, migraines, the cold, flu, neck and lower back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual pain, sprains, muscle strains, muscle pain, bursitis, toothaches or nerve pain. Aspirin may be prescribed alongside other medications to help manage symptoms as necessary.

Because of the anti-clotting properties of aspirin, this medication is commonly given to patients to prevent a heart attack or stroke in those that have high cholesterol, inactive lifestyle, high blood pressure, stress, obesity or those who smoke. If the patient is having a heart attack may be given aspirin to help ward off the attack. Those that have already undergone heart surgery such as carotid artery surgery may be put on an aspirin regimen to help them recover from their surgery. Those that have undergone a hip replacement will typically be given aspirin to help prevent clotting as the incision heals.

Note: You should not start an aspirin regimen unless your doctor tells you to. This medication can interfere with other prescriptions you might be taken. You should also avoid giving your aspirin with others, even if they appear to have similar symptoms to yours as this can pose a similar risk to these people.

How to Take Aspirin Correctly

Adult Dosage

  • Patients using aspirin to treat pain should take 325-650 mg of aspirin every 4-6 hours as necessary. Do not take more than 4000 mg per day unless your doctor has given you other instructions.
  • Those using aspirin to treat a headache can take as much as 1000 mg as the headache takes hold.
  • If you are treating an inflammatory condition such as rheumatoid arthritis patients are typically given 975 mg every 4-6 hours, though doctors may prescribe a larger dose if necessary.
  • However, you should only take 80 mg for every kilogram of body weight to treat rheumatic fever. Take this aspirin in divided doses throughout the day.
  • Those using aspirin as part of their regimen to help prevent a heart attack or stroke will typically be given 80-325 mg of the medication once a day. This will vary based on your symptoms. In the midst of a heart attack patients should take 160-162.5 mg of aspirin. Chew or crush the aspirin so it can be absorbed quickly and call emergency medical services immediately.

Children's Dosage

Aspirin should not be given to children, teenagers or young adults to treat a fever, but it can be given to younger patients to treat pain. Check with your doctor before giving aspirin to your child to avoid potential side effects.

In most cases, children may be given 10-15 mg of aspirin for every kg of body weight. Doses may be repeated every 6 hours as necessary. Do not give children more than 2400 mg of aspirin per day. If your child has been prescribed aspirin as an anti-inflammatory, they may take 60-125 mg of medication for every kg of body weight. Give this medication in 4-6 divided doses throughout the day. If you are unsure how much aspirin is safe to give your child, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to get a more accurate dose.

Aspirin is available from many different brands and in different forms. Be sure to read the dosing size associated with the brand of aspirin you are using so you know how many tablets to take. Some brands sell aspirin tablets that are coated. Those that take aspirin regularly may find that it causes stomach irritation. Those that will be taking aspirin as part of a daily regimen may need to seek out a brand that offers coated tablets. These will break down farther in the intestine so they will not hurt the stomach while they break down. If you would like to learn more about how to take aspirin visit