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Everything You Should Know About Aspirin: Proper Dosage, Side Effects, and Signs of Overdose

Updated on Jul 15, 2021 by Dr. Amr Hosny (Headache Specialist) of Advanced Headache Center

If you have been using aspirin for relieving headaches for some time, and feel unusual signs and symptoms, seek medical assistance immediately. Aspirin is an effective medication that reduces headaches and prevents certain heart-related conditions. Still, it must not be consumed for a long time and in high doses as it could lead to aspirin toxicity. The experienced pain management doctor at Advanced Headache Center will help you understand what could lead to aspirin overdose and how to avoid its side effects.

Side Effects of Aspirin Overdose

If you take aspirin for headaches, you must be aware of the side effects of its long-term and high dose usage. Aspirin overdose usually occurs when you take more than the required or recommended amount of this medication, either accidentally or unintentionally. You must know how much aspirin is too much and when you should consult a doctor to avoid aspirin poisoning.

Aspirin is classified as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for relieving mild to moderate headaches and fever. Most people use aspirins regularly to alleviate migraine headaches or chronic headache pain. If the headaches result from some underlying medical condition, it will not provide the desired relief, and too much of it can even be dangerous.

Derived from salicylic acid, aspirin also works as a mild blood thinner. It is an over-the-counter medication that is easily available and relieves temporary ailments, but too much of it is not good and leads to overdose and side effects. Salicylate toxicity can be deadly, and it must be used carefully after a doctor’s consultation to avoid any complications.

The Standard Dose of Aspirin

The right dose of aspirin depends on why you are taking it, the type of aspirin you are using, and how well it works for you.

Aspirin is available in various forms, including:

  • Regular tablets
  • Delayed-release tablets
  • Extended-release tablets
  • Chewable tablets
  • Rectal suppositories

Over the counter aspirin is available in various doses, including:

  • 81 mg tablets or chewable
  • 325 mg tablets that are labeled “regular strength.”
  • 500 mg aspirin tablets are considered “extra strength.”

Other strengths are also available, but they should be purchased only after the doctor’s recommendation for safe and effective consumption. Using aspirin for headaches is sufficient if it is a temporary headache and the medication is taken under the limit.

Typically, non-prescription aspirin can be taken after every 4 to 6 hours as needed to reduce headaches and pain. Prescription aspirin is usually taken two or more times per day, and a lower dose of aspirin once a day is recommended for reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke.

If you do not suffer from any preexisting health condition, you should not take more than 4,000 mg aspirin per day. If you have liver or kidney problems or other medical conditions, consult a doctor about how much aspirin you can safely take. As aspirin has some anti-blood-clotting capabilities, the doctor may recommend taking either 81 or 325 mg of aspirin per day if you are at risk of certain conditions to avoid serious side effects.

Dangers of Aspirin Overdose – Signs and Symptoms

If you are taking aspirin regularly, you must know how much aspirin is too much, or you might end up with acute or chronic overdose in the long run.

Acute Overdose

Taking too much aspirin at one time can lead to acute overdose. The earliest symptoms of acute overdose include:

  • Stomach upset
  • Pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe irritation of the stomach lining can also lead to ulcers
  • Damage to the gastrointestinal tract is also possible
  • Hyperventilation
  • Double vision
  • Feeling faint
  • Seizures in severe cases

In case of acute overdose, it is essential to seek immediate medical care for first aid advice. Without proper treatment, you may slip into a coma, or it could also be fatal.

Chronic overdose

As aspirin builds up in the body over a long time, it leads to chronic overdose. Symptoms of chronic overdose tend to be long-lasting, severe, and systemic and could also result in organ damage or failure in case of negligence. Symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Increased heart rate
  • Mild to high fever
  • Collapsing
  • Serious allergic reactions

In case of excessive overdosage and delayed treatment, symptoms will continue to worsen. Breathing becomes extremely fast, and the patient can suffer stroke too.

Older people are at high risk of facing chronic overdose. If you have an undiagnosed kidney, liver, or other organ problem, you may suffer chronic overdose symptoms as it becomes tough for the body to process aspirin efficiently.

Aspirin is the right choice for temporary relief of headache pain, but it does not provide lasting relief from chronic headaches or migraines. You must consult an expert pain management doctor for a long-term and permanent solution to recurring painful episodes that affect your life and routine activities.

It is essential to protect your health and go beyond aspirin to eliminate the headaches from your life for good without facing any side effects or complications. An experienced and knowledgeable physician will help deal with headaches most effectively by diagnosing your condition accurately and recommending the best medication, ensuring you do not end up with aspirin toxicity. The expert pain doctors at the Advanced Headache Center determine the source of the problem and come up with a treatment plan that works best for your specific discomfort.

Dr. Amr Hosny has either authored or reviewed and approved this content. Advanced Headache Center 41 5th Avenue,
New York, NY 10003
(646) 419-3105