Aspirin is a medicine commonly used to relieve pain, reduce swelling and reduce a
high temperature. It also makes the blood less sticky so it is less likely to form a clot. This information sheet from Great Ormond Street Hospital describes aspirin, how it is given and some of its possible side effects.In adults, aspirin is often given to people with heart problems because of this action.
Aspirin should not be given to children aged under 16 unless on the advice of a doctor. This is because there is a very small risk that children can develop a condition called Reye’s syndrome if they are given aspirin when they have a viral illness. In many cases, your doctor will advise that your child takes aspirin despite this risk, because the chance of developing a blood clot is greater than the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome.
How is it given?
Aspirin is available in many forms, but we usually use dispersible tablets that come in 75mg strength.
The dose should be taken once a day after food. Disperse the tablet(s) in a small amount of water and give it to your child to drink or use an oral syringe to squirt the dose gently into the side of your child’s mouth.
If your child needs a proportion of the tablet, disperse it in a specific volume of water (for instance 10mls) and then draw up the correct proportion of the liquid using the oral syringe provided. These instructions will be on the medicine label.
For example, if your child needs to take a 50mg dose each day:
- disperse a 75mg tablet in 15mls of water
- draw up 10mls of the liquid and give to your child
- throw the rest of the liquid away
Who should not take aspirin (contraindications)?
People with the following conditions should discuss taking aspirin with their doctor:
- pregnancy or potential pregnancy, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding
- allergy to aspirin or its ingredients, salicylates or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- stomach problems, especially a history of gastro-intestinal bleeding
- clotting disorder
- G6PD deficiency: high dose aspirin
What are the side effects?
- Bleeding or bruising – You may notice that your child tends to bleed or bruise more easily than previously. This is due to the anti-clotting property of aspirin.
- Bronchospasm, shortness of breath or wheezing – If this becomes worse after your child starts taking aspirin, please tell us. Some children are short of breath or wheezy because of their existing condition.
- Stomach ache or ulcer – Aspirin can irritate the lining of the stomach. This can be helped by always taking the dose after food. If your child has serious stomach pains, please tell us.
Aspirin and other medicines
Some medicines can react with aspirin, making their effects stronger or weaker. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving your child any other medicines, including herbal or complementary medicines. The following are known to react with aspirin, but can be safely given with low anti-platelet doses of aspirin
- Anti-coagulant medicines to prevent blood clots forming
- Diuretic tablets to reduce fluid in the body
- Other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) medicines, such as ibuprofen
- Some anti-epileptic medicines
- ACE inhibitors
If your child is taking aspirin regularly, he or she can also take paracetamol to reduce pain and high temperatures when needed.
- Keep tablets in a safe place where children cannot reach them.
- If your doctor decides to stop treatment with aspirin, return any unused tablets to the pharmacist. Do not flush them down the toilet or throw them away.
- If you forget to give your child a dose, give it as soon as you remember. Do not give a double dose.
- If your child vomits after taking the tablet, do not give a double dose.