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12 Times Aspirin Won’t Work—and Could Be Dangerous

A daily aspirin regimen sounds healthy, but aspirin can be dangerous for people with certain conditions and in certain situations. Find out when this over-the-counter medication won’t help and could actually land you in the emergency room.

Scrutinizing aspirin’s benefits

Macro shot of white aspirin pillsShane Maritch/Shutterstock

You know that aspirin can ease pain; most have heard it can prevent heart disease. However, it turns out that only a small group of people get the heart benefits. “Years ago it was common practice to tell most patients to take an aspirin—you know, an aspirin a day keeps the doctor away,” South Florida cardiologist Adam Splaver, MD, says. “Well, this old adage may not only be wrong in some cases; it may send you to the emergency room.” Check out 49 more secrets your pharmacist won’t tell you.

Over-the-counter does not equal safe

Rear view of a pharmacist working in lab coats in the pharmacywavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Because you can buy aspirin as an over-the-counter medication, you probably assume it’s safe. “We all have battled some sort of a backache, headache, or knee pain in our lives, and most of us simply pop a few OTC pain relievers to ease the discomfort we are feeling,” says Vernon Williams, MD, sports neurologist and director of the Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, California. “Doing that seems harmless enough, right? After all, we think, if it’s sold at the local grocery store, it must be safe.” Read about 9 times when another OTC pain medication could cause serious problems.

If you have a bleeding disorder

bandaid on hand isolated on white backgroundBankoo/Shutterstock

If you have ever been diagnosed with a bleeding disorder, steer clear of aspirin. “People with bleeding disorders should avoid taking aspirin, as it is a blood thinner,” says Hoag Medical Group physician Elizabeth Yanni, MD. “Taking aspirin can lead to extreme blood loss and can be fatal.”

Aspirin keeps blood from clotting, and for some people that can turn a small cut into a serious problem. “Aspirin decreases platelet ‘stickiness’ by inhibiting the enzymes that initiate the sequence necessary for platelet activation,” says gastroenterologist Niket Sonpal, MD, associate program director of the internal medicine residency at Brookdale Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. “Without platelets, we bleed for longer.”

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