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Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid)

This is a pharmacological drug made from the Willow plant that has been around since 1897 and effectively treats pain, fever and inflammation. Aspirin works by inhibiting the production of compounds in the body known as prostaglandins, which are involved in tissue inflammation, pain and fever. Aspirin also inhibits the activity of blood platelets (which help to clot). It is given as an anti-inflammatory for pain , fever and to thin the blood (reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes). Side effects of aspirin include bruising and stomach upset. At very high doses it may cause confusion or ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Children, should not be given Aspirin as it can trigger a condition known as Reyes syndrome, where severe liver inflammation and damage occurs.

Aspirin is a true  allergy with the presence of Immunoglobin E (IgE) antibodies in the blood. If you are allergic to Aspirin you will not necessarily react to Salicylates in food but if you have Salicylate intolerance you must avoid Aspirin as it is salicylates acid and will accumulate in the blood. Sensitive people react to Aspirin with symptoms of rash , hives , angioedema (swelling of facial tissues) ,usually within one to six hours after ingestion depending on the severity.


Anaphylaxis with Aspirin

Anaphylaxis is an acute, life-threatening hypersensitivity reaction, involving the whole body, which is usually brought on by ingestion of food or drugs. Aspirin has an array of adverse side effects, ranging from mild gastritis to life-threatening allergic reactions or anaphylactic shock. Severe initial symptoms can develop within minutes and usually reach peak severity within 3-30 minutes. Rarely, anaphylaxis may be delayed for several hours. Anaphylaxis may include any combination of common signs and symptoms ranging from mild gastritis to life-threatening allergic reactions.


Manifestations of anaphylaxis:

Hives (urticaria)
Angioedema -Itching and swelling of the eyelids, lips, tongue and palate, and throat.
Respiratory system- dyspnea, wheezing, and upper airway obstruction from laryngeal edema .
Gastrointestinal system - nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
Cardiovascular system -dizziness, fainting, hypotension .
Sensitive persons may have similar reactions to NSAIDs and should only take Paracetamol for mild pain or fever.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (abbreviated NSAID) include a large number of medications that are closely related to Aspirin, Ibuprofen,Naproxen. Ask your Pharmacist.

Occasionally people who are allergic to aspirin and have asthma, nasal polyps and sinusitis/rhinitis will suffer symptoms if they eat foods that have high levels of natural salicylates in some food. This is rare, so low salicylate diets are not considered a routine part of management.


Medical treatment for Aspirin overdose

When a patient has had an Aspirin overdose an intravenous infusion of  Sodium Bicarbonate is given and activated charcoal.






The hope of this website is to show clear simple ways to cope with Aspirin Allergy and Salicylate Intolerance and the information provided is designed to support, not to replace, the relationship that exists between a patient and their physician.

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