The oldest over-the-counter standby, aspirin has a long history of providing comfort and relief from fever, headache, and the minor pain of menstrual cramps, muscle strain, and arthritis. Since 1897, when the German chemist Felix Hoffman first made the drug in its current form—acetylsalicylic acid—aspirin has held a prominent place in medicine cabinets, first aid kits, purses, and briefcases.

Although aspirin seems plain and simple, it offers relief from everyday ills—and protection from serious illness—that equals or surpasses newer, more "glamorous" drugs. Scientists believe aspirin slows down the production of hormone-like substances in the body called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are released after injuries to the body and contribute to inflammation. They can also cause blood to form clots that can lead to heart attack and stroke.

How to choose Aspirin

Aspirin comes in many forms: plain, buffered, extra strength, enteric coated, low dose, and combination products for relief from migraine headaches and trouble sleeping. When choosing aspirin products, think about the symptoms you want to treat and the needs and health history of each member of your family.

Aspirin Strength

Aspirin is available in various strengths. Choose one depending on the health needs of the person who'll be taking it.

  • Regular-strength aspirin has 325 mg per tablet. In doses of 1,300–3,900 mg daily, as needed, it reduces the discomfort of menstrual cramps, and the pain, redness, and swelling that injury can cause. For relief of such everyday aches and pains or fever, adults shouldn't take more than 4,000 mg daily.
  • Extra-strength aspirin packs in 500 mg. In relatively high doses (up to 4,000 mg every day) it relieves the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and related illnesses.
  • Some doctors recommend low-dose aspirin for people at risk for heart attack, stroke, or blood vessel disease. Typically, the dose is 81–325 mg daily to help prevent heart and blood vessel problems. Low-dose aspirin is often enteric-coated to help prevent stomach irritation.
  • For children, the dose is based on age, weight, or both. Don't give aspirin to a child who has chickenpox or flu-like symptoms without first talking to your doctor, because of the risk of Reye's syndrome.

Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by a licensed physician. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication.

Personal Hygiene