Aspirin is an extremely common drug that is in regular use today. The drug has been in use since the 1890’s and has demonstrated its ability to be used in the treatment of various ailments since that time. Aspirin is the broad term in reference to acetylsalicylic acid and is the trademark of the medication manufactured by Bayer in Germany. Although aspirin is at times considered a trademark, its general reference is associated with acetylsalicylic acid. In the context of this paper, aspirin refers to acetylsalicylic acid. The initial development of the drug focused on making as an analgesic or a painkiller, and this remains the sole purpose of the drug in the perspectives of most individuals. Aspirin was the first nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug and remains the most effective drug of this kind.
How aspirin works
Aspirin inhibits the release of prostaglandins by attaching itself to the enzymes, therefore, preventing messages associated with pain from reaching the brain. This action is achieved by reduction of thromboxane produced. This drug also prevents blood clots and acts as anticoagulants, which serves as an important drug in heart patients. When aspirin is taken into the blood stream, it travels to all body parts and since prostaglandin production is only increased in the injured areas aspirin only acts in these areas and, therefore, relieves pain in any area that is injured. The preventive action of aspirin especially on the production of prostaglandin is also affecting some essential body functions (Veitonmäki et. al 2013). Although marginal doses of the drug may not cause this result, continuous use of the drug should be checked. Using aspirin in relieving pain for wounds and substantially slows the healing process since platelets cannot clot to form scabs. Moreover, drugs that contain aspirin have been developed and are made to avoid some of these side effects. The ability of aspirin to control pain and fever is associated with its activity on the prostaglandin system achieved through its irreversible inhibition of cyclooxygenase.
Uses of aspirin
The primary uses of aspirin include pain relief especially headaches, reduction of inflammation and in swelling arthritis and injuries and recovery from a cardiovascular surgery or a bypass operation. Choe et. al (2012) provides that aspirin also acts as an anti-coagulant administered to individuals with unstable angina and suffers of heart attacks and mini-strokes. Aspirin can also reduce the severity of heart attacks when taken at its early symptoms and acts as a treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatoid diseases (Beales et. al 2012).
Some people find that aspirin may assist in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes. According to Aronow (2013) when administered in lower doses, this drug is notable in the prevention of the progression of cardiovascular ailments and lessens the occurrence of these ailments for individuals with a history of them. Aspirin appears to provide little assistance to individuals at a reduced danger of a stroke or a heart attack. Aspirin is a primary treatment for joint pain and fever symptoms associated with acute rheumatic fever. Schneider et. al (20120 argues that this therapy usually continues for a week or more, and is hardly indicated for extended periods. When the pain and fever have subsided, the drug is no longer required because it does not lessen the incidence of residual rheumatic heart disorders and heart complications.
Aspirin is considered inferior to ibuprofen in relieving pain because aspirin is more probable to result in gastrointestinal bleeding. It is generally ineffective in relieving pain resulting from muscle cramps, gastric distension, bloating, and acute skin irritations (Kaul and Diamond 2013). However, the combinations of aspirin with caffeine provide a slightly effective pain relief remedy as compared to aspirin alone. Additionally effervescent aspirin formulations relieve pain quicker than aspirin tablets, therefore, making them beneficial in the management of migraines. Aspirin can also be used in the treatment of neuropathic pain. When used alone or with a combination of aspirin can be an effective remedy for headaches.
Other benefits associated with the use of aspirin include the treatment of migraine, improving circulation of blood in the gums and fighting breast, colon, and ovarian cancer. It also prevents cataracts improves brain function and especially memory, controls pre-eclampsia and reduces colorectal cancer repeating. The use of aspirin is also associated with preventing adult leukemia, HIV, replicating, reduction of the risk of prostrated cancer risk and increases the success rates of IVF programs.
The drug is not recommended for all individuals and caution should be taken in administering the drug especially to children less than 16 years of age, individuals who are asthmatic, women in the final trimester of gestation, and individuals below 20 years with fever. Individuals with bleeding disorders should also avoid the drug as well as people with ulcers or persistent stomach complications (McCowan 2000). Additionally the drug is not suitable for diabetics who are on medication, breastfeeding mothers, heavy alcohol drinkers, individuals with reduced kidney functions or liver disease and individuals on a low sodium diet (Reimers 2012).
Similar to all drugs, aspirin has some risks associated with its consumption. Although many of these side effects are not common to render unacceptable side effects to patients, some significant risks are associated with its intake. Healthy individuals taking aspirin infrequently and as directed are not likely to develop any serious side effects. Using aspirin in teenagers and children with a fever, particularly after a viral infection, may result in the manifestation of a possibly serious complication called the Reye Syndrome. It is thus for this reason that it is recommended not to administer aspirin to individuals below the age of 16 or individuals below 20 years who have a fever. Another risk associated with aspirin is the likelihood of a complication from an overdose; therefore, it is essential to keep the medicine in a safe place.
Additionally aspirin can cause an irritation of the stomach, resulting in nausea and vomiting; therefore, it is best to take aspirin with or just after meals. Other problems associated with aspirin include excessive bleeding, heartburn, ringing in the ears, allergic reactions, and indigestion (Algraand Rothwell 2012). Given that analgesics such as aspirin are excreted through the kidneys, it is imperative to note that these drugs have the potential of damaging the kidneys and the prolonged use of the drug negatively affects the renal function..
The understanding of the use of aspirin in the medical care is beneficial as it helps to bring to light threw significance of aspirin. This understanding helps patients as well as medical practitioners in making the right decisions related to the administration and the use of the drug. This understanding is also critical in avoiding the side effects associated with the use of aspirin. This research assists in providing an improved understanding of the use of aspirin and improves the body of information in the current literature (McCowan et. al 2013).
Algra, A.M., & Rothwell, P.M. (2012). Effects of regular aspirin on long-term cancer incidence and metastasis: a systematic comparison of evidence from observational studies versus randomized trials. Lancet Oncology, Vol. 13 (5): 518-27.
Aronow W.S. (2013). Antiplatelet drug use in patients with non-ST-segment elevation acute coronary syndromes. Journal of Postgraduate Medicine, Vol. 125 (1): 51-8.
Beales, L. P., Vardi, I., & Dearman, L. (2012). Regular statin and aspirin use in patients with Barrett’s oesophagus is associated with a reduced incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma. European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology. Vol.24 (8). p.917-23.
Choe, K.S., Cowan, J.E, Chan, J.M., Carroll, P.R., D’Amico, A.V.,& Liauw, S.L . (2012). Aspirin use and the risk of prostate cancer mortality in men treated with prostatectomy or radiotherapy. Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol. 30 (28): 3540-4.
Kaul, S., & Diamond, G. A. (2013). Relationship of aspirin use with age-related macular degeneration: association or causation?: comment on “the association of aspirin use with age-related macular degeneration”. JAMA Internal Medicine. Vol. 173 (4): 264-6.
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McCowan, C., Munro, A.J., Donnan, P.T., Steele, R.J.C. (2013). Use of aspirin post-diagnosis in a cohort of patients with colorectal cancer and its association with all-cause and colorectal cancer specific mortality. European Journal of Cancer, Vol. 49 (5), p. 1049-57.
Reimers, M. S. (2012). Aspirin Use After Diagnosis Improves Survival in Older Adults with Colon Cancer: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society,Vol. 60 (12). 2232-2236.
Schneider, A.R., Armbruster, S., Mann, J.M., Römer, W., Schuster, T., Schepp, W., & Zeitschrift, G. (2012). [Current clinical practice among German Internists regarding the prophylaxis of gastroduodenal ulcers associated with NSAIDs, aspirin and Helicobacter pylori]. Vol. 50 (11), pp. 1156-60
Veitonmäki, T., Tammela, L.J., Auvinen, A., & Murtola, T. J. (2013). Use of aspirin, but not other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is associated with decreased prostate cancer risk at the population level. European Journal of Cancer.