People have been using the main ingredient in aspirin for millennia. The use of willow bark, the original source for salicylic acid, goes back into pre-history. Its benefits as a pain killer and to bring down swelling are well known and documented.
There are other uses for aspirin. One of the most important is that of a blood thinner. People who have had heart attacks or are at risk for them are often put on an aspirin regimen to help prevent future heart attacks and/or strokes.
These are important jobs, though we do have stronger choices for pain and swelling. We also have stronger sources for blood thinners, yet aspirin often remains in the regimen for its unique properties.
That doesn’t mean aspirin is for everyone, nor does it mean that it lacks side effects. There are many people who shouldn’t take the medication. There are many people who are allergic to it, and have to use some caution when choosing medications and topical pain relievers.
People with gout also have problems with aspirin. It can increase uric acid content in the blood stream. This translates to an increased risk for flare ups. Most people on low dose aspirin should be fine, though you should speak to your doctor and cardiologist to make sure.
Like many NSAIDs, aspirin can cause an upset stomach. It can also cause some bleeding in the intestinal tract. If you have a very sensitive stomach or a condition that makes bleeding worse, you may need to skip the aspirin.
There is a new study out with some disturbing findings. If you have or are at risk for age related macular degeneration, taking aspirin can exacerbate the situation. It doesn’t actually cause it, but it definitely makes it worse. The reason this is alarming is that so many seniors are on daily aspirin therapy.
That doesn’t mean you should stop taking aspirin. It does mean that you should sit down with your doctor and discuss the risks vs. the benefits of continuing the aspirin regiment. While possible vision loss isn’t pleasant, it’s a lot more pleasant than the pain and potential death caused by a heart attack.
Aspirin is a very useful medication, but it needs to be treated with respect. It is a drug, and it can create serious problems if not used properly. However, in most cases, the benefits outweigh the risks.